8th International Aquarium Congress opening ceremony a hit
The opening ceremony for the 8th International Aquarium Congress (IAC) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, included an amazing performance with the message: “Deep down we’re all one.”
A narrator performed a passionate monologue, depicting the way mankind has attempted to rule the ocean, despite being infinitely inferior in stature. Some energetic choreography, beautiful singing and pounding drumming, made for a brilliant start to the first IAC to be held in Africa, as well as in the southern hemisphere. See a short excerpt from the performance below.
Popular weatherman and chief meteorologist at eTV, Derek van Dam, proved to be the perfect host for the opening day of the IAC. “Weather you know me or not…” he said before the room burst into laughter. He hoped the conference would create a “great message of hope and resilience” regarding the challenges being faced by oceans today.
Two Oceans Aquarium Managing Director Dr Patrick Garratt mentioned there were delegates from 40 different countries. He spoke of how proud he was to be involved in the first IAC to take place in Africa. “The family tree of humanity is rooted in African soil,” he said. “Welcome home.”
Dr Garratt beamed as he spoke of South Africa’s rich biodiversity, both on land and within the two oceans that meet the country’s coastline. He explained that South Africa’s coastal waters were home to around 15% of all known marine species.
David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront and chairman of the Two Oceans Aquarium Trust, spoke about the role Cape Town had played in setting up global trade routes over the centuries and acknowledged all the hard work that went into preparing for the 8th IAC during the past four years, since the event was held in Shanghai.
Alan Winde, Western Cape minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said that while the region’s unemployment rate of 22.8% kept him awake every night, he was encouraged by the difference events such as the IAC could make in generating the local economy. Donald Grant, Western Cape minister of Education, mentioned how important it is for everyone to be educated about ocean sustainability. “If we do not conserve our oceans, we cannot sustain future generations,” said the minister, who was involved in the fishing industry for 30 years.
Dr Monde Mayekiso, head of Oceans and Coasts at the South African Department of of Environmental Affairs, said aquariums stimulated the population to discuss issues affecting the oceans and played a crucial part in creating a sustainable future.
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