Today was a remarkable, special day: an ICGL awe-filled, wholehearted, learning day. After a full night’s rest at Oceans House, a research facility in Mossel Bay (a four hour drive from Cape Town), we began helping the field specialists and interns with their ocean research.
We helped the Oceans Team complete research in tide pools by counting the number of individual species we saw within a specific tide pool. Tide pools are a habitat for sea life. The health and biodiversity of tide pools is symbolic of the health of the total ocean system as it withstands changes to our world and the environment. We also learned about invasive species that threaten the aquatic ecosystem here in South Africa, such as the Mediterranean Blue mussels. Invasive species threaten healthy ecosystems around the planet. In Atlanta, we have an opportunity to learn how Kudzo, the African Honey Bee,the Ambrosia beetle, and the Boll Weevil threaten the many species in the our local ecosystem.
Our Conservation Cohort also learned how action research works: we collected Great White Shark research with The Oceans Team. We embarked on a boat and chummed for sharks. Chumming is the practice of throwing small bits of mashed up sardines mixed with ocean water right over the boat. The purpose of chumming is to attract the sharks with the scent. The chum makes an oily pathway throughout the water and the sharks follow the pathway to the boat. The purpose is not to feed the sharks but to attract them with the scent so that when they come close to the boat. We can identify them and record their markings to discover the migration patterns and eventually calculate the total number of sharks in the bay.
While we were out on the boat, we saw seven sharks, multiple pods of dolphins, one whale, and thousands of seals all who live on one tiny island, Seal Island. We watched the sun set over Seal Island:a spectacular way to end our Pacetastic day.
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