Tuesday, January 5, 2010

South Africa: How did I get here?

Sunnye Dreyfus, South Africa Expedition

Do you ever have those moments in life when the record scratches, you look into the camera and exclaim, "How did I get here?" I have had several of those moments in life ... teaching physics through a game of tug-of-war with 8th graders in the Marshall Islands ... the afternoon I had tea with the local town "witch" in the hills of Sligoville, Jamaica ... being drenched in fish poo after successfully unclogging a 750-gallon tilapia tank in the Bahamas ... attending a wedding reception in the back of a bowling alley in Wisconsin. If my soft little brain could have comprehended it, I'm sure I would have asked this question on the day I was born.

Two days ago, I was running along the edge of the world in the sleepy little town of Pringle Bay in South Africa and I heard that record scratching in my head again.

Kooel Bay, on the drive to Cape Hangklip

After a 14-hour flight from Houston to Dubai (8,179 miles) followed by a 9-hour flight from Dubai to Cape Town (4,732 miles) and a staggering 21 tons of CO2 later, I am here on the other side of the world for the next 3 weeks with several questions to explore in the realm of marine conservation education. I hope to learn more about institutions and individuals seeking to bring ocean conservation to the forefront of everyone's minds. Ultimately, this information gathering will help feed into the redevelopment of our sharks outreach program and some of the work we do around climate change education.

I've gathered a few questions from staff here at the New England Aquarium, which includes the following:
1. How do institutions teach about conservation? Climate change?
2. What kind of research is happening at these institutions and how do they play a role in their local communities (general public as well as business)?
3. What are the current issues surrounding the interface between fisheries and penguins & sharks?
4. How do education programs encourage stewardship?

If you have any more questions, please comment and I will do my best to explore it!

Wildlife list:
1. African black oyster catcher, Haematopus moquini
2. Pied crow, Corvus albus
3. Hadeda Ibis, Bostrychia hagedash
4. Hartlaub's gull, Laurus hartlaubii
5. Feral pigeon, Columba livia
6. Speckled mouse bird, Colius striatus
7. African rain spider, family Sparassidae
8. Cape fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus
9. Helmeted guineafowl, Numida meleagris
10. Tern, Nohus ideaus
11. Gecko, Notso shurus
12. No baboons yet, but they have been known to tease the local dogs in Pringle Bay. They get the dogs to chase them down the road. They stop, turn around, slap the unsuspecting canines on the snout and then take off running again.

Hadeda Ibis, Pringle Bay
Dankie and stay tuned!

(Note to self: need to plant 450 trees when I get back home.)

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