Ideally situated at the edge of False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Centre overlooks the ocean and the distant Hottentots Holland Mountains. It was established in 2008 in a beautiful heritage-status building in Kalk Bay, right on the doorstep of the incredible Dalebrook Marine Protected Area – an apt location for a marine-focused centre, as Dalebrook is a sanctuary zone within the greater Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area.
The centre had multiple objectives when it was first established. It was to be a research hub that housed resident scientists (even offering a laboratory) and would be available for visiting researchers to use as a home base in Cape Town. It was to provide accommodation and facilities for visiting Save Our Seas Foundation staff and associates, as well as an event, meeting and conference space for local science, research and conservation organisations. Not least of all, it was to be an education facility for both public walk-in and organised school visits and for outreach activities.
This was a lot of different roles for a single centre to play, but for several years it served these different communities and needs. It hosted a number of extremely successful and high-profile projects, such as Dr Alison Kock’s research on the white sharks of False Bay. There were also exciting collaborations with international researchers like Adam Barnett and Christopher Neff.
At times the demands on the centre were so numerous that it was difficult to decide which would take priority. Although all the objectives were worthwhile and needed, it became clear that narrowing the focus of the centre and expanding into just one or two areas of priority was going to be more effective in achieving real gains in marine conservation.
A detailed investigation into the potential of the Shark Centre was undertaken to identify how best it could both deliver benefits to the Save Our Seas Foundation and achieve broad-scale conservation successes. This proved to be a great opportunity and it came at just the right time to harness the incredible potential of the centre’s location and its dedicated staff and, with the support of the Save Our Seas Foundation, to turn it into something truly wonderful.
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.