Wander through watery wonders at Water World

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Wednesday, 26th February 2014

What is water? Why is it so special? Why is it necessary for life? Where does water come from? How big is the ocean? Is the ocean getting warmer? How varied are marine and freshwater biodiversity? What IS biodiversity? Why do sharks have so many teeth? Why should we study the sea? What is an alien fish? Why are some fish poisonous? Why do some fish sting? Why are fish slimy?

These are just some of the questions that tease the enquiring minds of young and old alike and Scifest Africa Water World, hosted by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) from 12-18 March 2014 in Grahamstown, South Africa, is where you may just find the answers you’ve been looking for.

Water World first appeared on the Scifest scene as an official venue in 2013. Professor Mike Bruton, who is a long-standing contributor and well-known face at Scifest and who has spent a life-time studying fish and things that live in water, is also an expert science communicator and currently Director of Imagineering at MTE Studios. After Water World 2013, he had this to say, “Congratulations on this excellent initiative, which works very well. I am sometimes concerned that science festivals (and science centres) underplay the biological and environmental sciences but, with the addition of Water World, there is no danger that SciFest will do this. After all, the sea covers about 2/3 of the world but, more importantly, being the most three-dimensional environment, it provides more than 90% of the habitable volume on our planet.”

So, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are: come and find out why sharks do indeed have so many teeth and even touch them with SHARK WORLD and its amazing robotic shark presented by Dr Matt Dicken and colleagues from Bayworld and the KZN Sharks Board; put on your board shorts or bikinis and take a day-trip to the coast (bookings are essential) and you will be rewarded with a day in the company of South Africa’s premier, A-rated estuarine scientist, Professor Alan Whitfield, who will explain how the intricate and complex ecosystems of our estuaries sustain and nurture fishes and other aquatic creatures, while having to cope with the increasing demands of human development; find out from Karen Anderson, who has been diving the reefs of Cozu­­mel in the Gulf of Mexico for over 30 years, how the beautiful, but highly poisonous lion fish is taking over and depleting the biodiversity of those reefs; blaze a new trail with the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) and Rhodes University’s environmental advocacy society, RU Green, and listen to the SASSI Singing Fish which is on the second leg of its South African tour traveling from uShaka Marine World in Durban to Water World in Grahamstown.

Vanessa Rouhani is the Water World event organiser. Asked where people can find Water World she explains, “Water World is situated on Somerset Street – look out for the Water World banners.  All workshops, excursions and tours can be booked through the Scifest Africa ticket office. A special Water World shuttle will run regularly through the day every day from the Monument to Water World – just meet at the Water World kiosk at the Monument. Overall, the feedback for 2013 was very positive, and we are looking forward to a bumper Water World 2014!”

For more about these and other exciting watery displays, tours and workshops at Water World consult the Scifest Africa Programme or contact Water World.

Article by Penny Haworth (SAIAB)

Contact details -Tel: 046 6035800; Email: waterworld@saiab.ac.za

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