Claire joined us at the Shark Education Centre in May 2016 as the new facilities manager. Before coming to us she worked in financial administration for a big insurance company, specialising in long-term investment and insurance, so her day-to-day working life has changed dramatically! We sat down to have a chat about what her first year with us has been like.
What are your favourite things about your new role?
There are so many! But I would say that it’s the interesting things that pop up on a daily basis. I think it was during my first week at the Shark Education Centre that I got to put on a wetsuit and rearrange aquarium rocks and anemones in the big fish tank. It was freezing! But fun. We really get to be hands-on during our work here, which is definitely one of my favourite things about working at the Shark Education Centre.
What are some of the (best) things you’ve learnt?
I’ve learnt a lot about sharks and rays, both from the staff here and from interacting with the public and our exhibits and displays. The biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the weirdest, the most common, the rarest, the oldest… There are so many things to learn and so many species of sharks. But most importantly, I’ve learnt how these animals form part of a much bigger picture in the marine ecosystem and that without them we would most likely see a collapse in the healthy functioning of the sea, which is of global importance. I have also learnt so many interesting things about marine life and conservation. I feel like I’m constantly discovering new things – the latest was just a few days ago when I found out about the existence of limpet flatworms.
Another thing that I’ve had to learn is that there are more than 101 things that can and will go wrong with an aquarium – and how to go about trouble-shooting them!
Was there anything about this job that really surprised you?
The amount of resources, time and energy that it takes to run a non-profit is astounding! And also, all the work that goes on in the background to arrange what seems like a straightforward school outing. When you see a group of excited schoolchildren being shown around the centre or happily exploring the rock pools of the Dalebrook Marine Sanctuary, what you don’t realise is that weeks of planning, paperwork, permissions and coordinated effort on the part of the centre’s education team, the school and the parents have gone into making this happen.
Ideally situated at the edge of False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre overlooks the ocean and is right on the doorstep of the incredible Dalebrook Marine Protected Area. This unique location enables us to immerse children in experientially focused educational activities.
The SOSF Shark Education Centre is an attraction not to be missed. It boasts a carefully selected collection of state-of-the-art exhibits that ensures that children and adults are able to learn through play and exploration, with each of their different senses engaged. This facilitates a truly immersive and stimulating educational experience while they are having fun.
The Shark Education Centre focuses mostly on sharks, from their diversity and anatomy to their habitats and their role in the ocean. However, there is also a strong emphasis on the unique and special marine ecosystem found in and around False Bay – and sharks are used as a key to unlock more general marine knowledge.
Groups of schoolchildren come through the centre and leave feeling inspired to care about sharks and their ocean habitats. But the centre does not only cater for visiting schools; there are outreach events, holiday clubs, marine awareness camps, marine explorers clubs and many other activities.
The Shark Education Centre also invites the general public to explore its displays. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our marine education and conservation messages are spread far and wide.