by Media Xpose

Come and explore the newly launched Marine Wildlife Walk at the V&A Waterfront on 3 March 2023 in celebration of World Wildlife Day – an important day on the Two Oceans Aquarium calendar. “Acknowledging this day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of conscious living and to focus on the crucial work our Wildlife Management Programme team does” said Helen Lockhart, Conservation & Sustainability Manager for the Aquarium. “The diverse wildlife that call the V&A Waterfront home largely goes unnoticed by the many people who visit the Waterfront precinct that surrounds the Aquarium. However, the unveiling of the Marine Wildlife Walk, featuring a variety of our wild neighbours at eight look-out points around the Waterfront precinct brings the urban marine wildlife into view”.

This year marks 50 years since the 1973 declaration of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This milestone of celebrating the world’s animals and plants and the contribution that they make to our lives and the health of the planet evoked the theme for the 2023 World Wildlife Day – ‘Partnership for Wildlife Conservation’ (https://wildlifeday.org/en). This embodies the message the that the V&A Waterfront aims to reflect in the Marine Wildlife Walk.

Wildlife Walk – V&A Waterfront

Cape Town is a city that boasts a vibrant urban wildlife population and the V&A Waterfront and surrounds is a microcosm of this incredible reality. Where the Aquarium has held the space of creating awareness around the marine environment and its animal inhabitants, the V&A Waterfront wants to expand this message to the broader Waterfront precinct.

The launch of the Marine Wildlife Walk is an expression of the Waterfront’s intention to showcase its contribution to sustainability, wildlife and biodiversity conservation. The Marine Wildlife Walk was developed over a few years of planning into an educational and interactive activity which visitors can enjoy.

The eight signs are easy to identify as they take the form of cut-out animal silhouettes in a bright array of colours. Featuring some of the wild marine animals that frequent the area such as otters, seals, herons, ocean sunfish, penguins, whales and dolphins, the signs can be found in strategic viewing spots along the route. Each sign gives some interesting information about the featured animals, while also encouraging those partaking in the walk to look around to see if they can spot other wildlife.

Want to know more or share your sightings? Download the iNaturalist app for free, join the V&A Waterfront’s Project on the app and scan the QR code found on each board. By doing so, you can even help scientists with your contributions.

The aim is to alert the public in a positive way to the incredibly diverse wildlife they could have the opportunity of seeing on their visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the greater V&A Waterfront precinct.

Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation Wildlife Management Programme

Wildlife management has been a feature of the Two Oceans Aquarium since its inception. However more recently, to combat potential dangers to humans and wildlife alike, the V&A Waterfront came up with the official Marine Wildlife Management Programme, operated by the Two Oceans Aquarium. The best approach has been to find spaces of intersection where humans and urban wildlife can live in harmony. To make sure that this happens an action plan of practical solutions has been designed.

Brett Glasby, the Wildlife Management Programme Coordinator, said ‘the Marine Wildlife Management Team are dedicated to the protection of marine wildlife and the comfortable cohabitation of humans and wildlife within the V&A Waterfront. The Marine Wildlife Walk affords members of the public the opportunity to learn about the wildlife that we share the V&A Waterfront with’.

The first call to action was to put together a Wildlife Management Team of monitors and specialists who would identify animals in need of assistance or rescue and mitigate human-wildlife interactions. This dynamic team walks the jetties and walkways of the V&A Waterfront on their daily patrols.

The main areas of mitigation dealt with by the Wildlife Management Team involve marine birds, seals, otters, ocean sunfish, and the occasional whale that finds itself inside the harbour marina. Marine mammals and sunfish often need assistance in finding their way out of the harbour area safely. Various sea birds can be seen at the V&AWaterfront, and the team assists in ensuring that birds, chicks, nests and humans do not interact negatively. The team uses specialised platforms to provide seals with an alternative resting spot to the boats moored at the marina, and to easily disentangle a seal from fishing line or box ties.

This programme enables the use of data-driven solutions to prevent negative or harmful interactions with humans and creates the opportunity for the team to assist injured, distressed or entangled animals – often victims to human industrial activities or pollution. https://www.aquarium.co.za/foundation/conservation/marine-wildlife-management-programme

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