Going green

The Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit. Photograph by Sven Lennert The Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit. Photograph by Sven Lennert

You can assist us in our conservation efforts in various ways. 

Seafood watch

Many of our fisheries are in deep trouble – there are simply not enough fish left in the oceans to keep everyone in business.

You, the consumer, can make a huge difference to our ocean resources by choosing to eat seafood that is still plentiful and can cope with today’s fishing pressures.

SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) has compiled a green, orange and red colour-coded system to help you make a well-informed and sustainable choice when buying seafood. 

Try to choose ‘’green’’ seafood species as often as possible because there are still plenty of them and they can cope with today’s fishing pressures. Green species include yellowtail, calamari, hake and black mussels.

Download the complete SASSI seafood list below. 

Hungry for fish?

Does the fish on your plate come from a healthy population?

Add the number 079 499 8795 to your cell contacts and simply text the name of a fish to receive an immediate message telling you whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid completely.

Cick here to go to the Sassi website.

Photograph by Helen Lockhart Photograph by Helen Lockhart

Sea shells on the sea shore

And that’s where they should stay… Or in the ocean.

Collecting shells and live corals damages reefs and kills marine animals e.g. hermit crabs which live in shells.   

You can help! Please...

  • Don't buy shell or coral jewellery and ornaments.

  • Leave shells on the beach – take photos of them instead.

  • Don’t touch corals when diving or snorkelling – make sure that you don’t bump into or break the corals with your fins.

  • Don’t take bits of coral off the reef or collect shells as souvenirs.

  • Don’t anchor your boat on coral reefs.

Sharks in deep trouble

Around the globe millions of sharks are slaughtered every year for their meat, fins, teeth, skin, oil and cartilage. One of the biggest threats facing sharks is illegal finning where the fins are hacked off the living animal and it is tossed back overboard to die a slow death. The fins are then sold for sharkfin soup, which is considered a delicacy in Asia.

A ragged-tooth shark at the Aquarium. Photograph by Geoff Spiby A ragged-tooth shark at the Aquarium. Photograph by Geoff Spiby

As populations of fish species collapse around the world due to overfishing, humans are having to cast their nets wider, targeting other animals in the food chain such as sharks. Shark and fishery scientists agree that many shark species are in deep trouble as the numbers of sharks being caught as target species or as bycatch are increasing. This has serious implications for their populations, as they are mostly slow growing and produce few offspring each year.

South Africa’s sharks

South Africa has a rich diversity of shark species off its shores. About one hundred species of the world’s approximately four hundred known shark species live in the oceans surrounding South Africa.

In South Africa various shark species are not only targeted by certain commercial fisheries, but are also caught as by-catch. Several conservative management restrictions have been put in place to help ensure the conservation and sustainable use of our sharks. Currently white sharks, whale sharks, basking sharks and sawfish are on the prohibited list (no catch or possession) while others including ragged-tooth sharks, spotted gullies and pyjama catsharks are on the no-sale recreational list. South Africa has also developed a draft National Plan of Action for Sharks to ensure conservation, management and the long-term sustainable use of sharks through ongoing research, management, monitoring, and enforcement.

Rethink the Shark

As a public aquarium dedicated to marine education and conservation, the Two Oceans Aquarium aims to inform the public of the role of sharks in the oceans and the importance of the larger species as apex predators. One of our main focus areas is on changing people’s perceptions and attitudes towards sharks and putting shark attacks in perspective.

With regards to the fishing of sharks we support the world-wide call for sustainable shark fisheries. We urge governments to:

  • regulate and monitor shark fisheries
  • implement heavy penalities for non-compliance
  • ban shark finning
  • insist on the landing of entire shark carcasses
  • fund ongoing research to further understand sharks and assess shark populations

We also urge consumers to be aware and to support sustainable fisheries. Choose seafood that is still plentiful and can withstand today’s current fishing pressure i.e. choose from SASSI’s green list or purchase seafood products with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.


Cool our planet

Global warming – the heat is on!

Earth has a fever: It’s heating up because carbon dioxide – which we produce when we burn fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil to make electricity and to power our cars, planes and trains – is trapping heat from the sun.

As carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it forms a blanket over the earth and the heat can’t get out with the result that temperatures on earth, and in the oceans, are rising. 

Bleached coral. Photograph by Prof O Hoegh-Guldberg Bleached coral. Photograph by Prof O Hoegh-Guldberg

Coral bleaching 

Coral bleaching is caused by a variety of stressors, but increasing sea-surface temperature is the most serious.

An increase of even 1°C in temperature over a two-month period can result in the deterioration and loss of the coloured algae from the corals which then appear pale and often turn white – a phenomenon referred to as "bleaching". 

During a bleaching event, corals may lose up to 90% of their algae, and the remaining algae may lose up to 80% of their photosynthetic pigments. The corals then become more vulnerable to algal overgrowth, disease, and reef organisms that bore into the coral skeleton and weaken the structure of the reef.

Prolonged high temperatures can destroy coral reefs completely with no chance of recovery. Dead, ugly rock is all that is left after a coral reef has been bleached.

Try some of these simple actions today

By saving energy and using more renewable sources of energy, we can reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and help cool the earth and the oceans.

  • Change a light: Replace one normal light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and save 330kg of carbon dioxide a year. Make sure you dispose of the CFLs safely as they contain mercury which is toxic.

  • Drive less: Walk, cycle, catch a lift or take public transport and save 2.2kg of carbon dioxide for every kilometre you don't drive.

  • Recycle more: Save 5 280kg of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

  • Check your tyres: Keep your tyres inflated and improve petrol usage by more than 3%. Every litre of petrol saved keeps 44kg of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

  • Use less hot water: Install low flow showerheads (770kg of CO2 saved per year) and wash your clothes in cold or warm, not hot, water (1 100kg saved per year).

  • Turn off your computer overnight – a standard monitor left on overnight uses enough energy to print 5 300 copies!

You want a straw? Think twice!

Straws are one of the top ten litter items found on our beaches. Not only is litter ugly, it also harms and even kills marine animals. We urge you to think twice before you grab a straw when buying a cool drink.

Save a frog, save yourself

Although some people think frogs are warty, ugly creatures, there's a growing froggy force of people who care about frogs and want to protect them.

Here are some tips on how to be a frog hero and help to save our frogs.   

  1. Build a toad abode (house). Frogs like cool, shady places to live in. You can make a special "house" for frogs to live in your garden. Take an old garden pot (you can even decorate it if you want), put it on the ground upside down, and prop up one side with a small rock. Ta-dah: you now have a toad abode!

  2. Make a toad-saver. Even though most frogs and toads can swim, they sometimes get trapped in swimming pools and drown because they can’t climb out. You can help them by making a toad-saver. Ask your mom or dad to help you.

    How do you make a toad-saver? Cut a piece of shade cloth about 3m wide and just long enough so that it sits just under the water. Place a strip of sealant onto the clean dry pool tiles. Make sure that all edges are glued so that the toads don’t climb inside the mesh.  Paddaah- you now have a toad-saver.

    Frogs: Beyond the Pond at the Aquarium. Photograph by Helen Lockhart Frogs: Beyond the Pond at the Aquarium. Photograph by Helen Lockhart

  3. Cover your drains. Open drain holes are dangerous for frogs and toads because if they fall in, they can’t climb out again because of the steep walls. Make sure your drains are covered so that frogs can’t slip down them. You can also make a toad-saver for your drains.

  4. No more poisons. Chemicals kill frogs and toads because they have sensitive skins through which they breathe and drink.  Ask your mom and dad not to use poisonous chemicals in your garden. Tell them to rather buy organic food for the plants and to leave the insects for the frogs to eat!

  5. Local is lekker! Frogs like indigenous plants – this means that they prefer plants that grow naturally in an area rather than being bought from somewhere else in the country or world (exotics). Local plants also drink less water, which means they help us to save water, money and frogs!

  6. Hole in the wall. Some frogs and toads, like the western leopard toad, live in gardens for most of the year, but when it is breeding time they need to move to water. If you have a big wall around your garden, they can’t get out. Ask your mom and dad to make some small holes in your garden wall – the holes should be about 10 x 3cm and about 20m apart.

  7. Brake for frogs! Some frogs and toads have to travel quite far to reach their breeding sites near water where they mate and lay their eggs. Climbing up pavements and crossing busy roads is very dangerous for them. Keep your eyes open toads on the roads. If you do see a toad on the road, please stop and pick it up and put it on the other side of the road (in the same direction in which it was going). Ask your mom and dad to brake for frogs and toads!

  8. Keep our rivers clean. Rivers, streams and wetlands are home to frogs and toads and many other animals. After a picnic or a walk near a river or stream, please take your rubbish home with you and recycle what you can!

Unfortunately it is illegal to collect and keep any frogs in the Western Cape without first getting permission from Department of Cape Nature Conservation to do so - this even applies to frogs that occur on one’s property.   You can contact Cape Nature Conservation on  tel. 021 483 3100 or 021 483 3086 and they will re-direct queries to the correct person(s) in the permitting division.

While we appreciate that children are fascinated by tadpoles and that it is great fun seeing them grow into frogs, we strongly advise that you do not remove tadpoles from their habitat.  This is important as tadpoles and frogs live in specific places because they are adapted to do so. Transferring them from one area to another area could have devastating consequences not only for those individuals (they could die due to lack of food), but also on species which may occur in the new habitat.

If you find frogs in your garden or elsewhere, please do not bring them to the Aquarium. We are not allowed to keep them. Either leave them where you found them or contact Cape Nature Conservation on  021 483 3100 or 021 483 3086.

Arum lily frogs hide in their favourite flower. Photograph by Dagny Warmerdam Arum lily frogs hide in their favourite flower. Photograph by Dagny Warmerdam

To buy or not to buy?

Arum lilies bloom in winter around Cape Town and it's tempting to buy these elegant flowers. However, it is illegal to pick arum lilies 50m from a road and you need permission from the land owner. To sell these flowers on the side of the road, the seller needs a hawker’s licence (from the City of Cape Town) and a flora seller permit (from Cape Nature). Most arums for sale in our city are picked and sold illegally.

Arum lily flowers often provide shelter to arum lily frogs. These little frogs, which are found only in the Western Cape and nowhere else in the world, hide in the flowers during the day. Please purchase arum lily flowers from traders selling in  legal, demarcated trading bays which are regulated by the City. The City encourages the public to report illegal trading on 021 596 1400/1424.



For Love of Water (FLOW)

Planet H²O, Aqua Planet, Planet Ocean … These are names that our planet should have been called, considering that 70% of it is covered by water, mostly the salt water of our mighty oceans. 

We are a mirror image of this composition – our human bodies also comprise 70% water; without water we would die and so would the planet.

However, if water is the dominant substance, if water is the essence of life, why do we pollute it, squander it, fight over it?  As Jacques Cousteau pointed out, “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”

Some water saving tips:

  • Drink tap/filtered water instead of bottled water.
  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Switch off the tap while brushing your teeth – one drop wasted is a drop too much.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Put a brick in your cistern to reduce the amount of water used in your loo.
  • Use environmentally-friendly/biodegradable detergents and body products.
  • Recycle grey water in your garden.
  • Make the I am For Love Of Water (FLOW) Promise