What an incredibly huge success! It all came together in the last hour, literally – I was still mopping the foyer floor an hour before the guests arrived, Morne, Alison’s fiance, was still out catching fish for our tank, and everyone was running around like headless chickens doing last minute things. But we did it, and with great success: a fantastic turnout of around 150 guests joined us in the community centre next door to the SOS Shark Centre to celebrate our opening. Thereafter we opened our doors and celebrated till the early hours – we deserved it!
I could not have done this without the support of Chris Clarke, SOSF Executive Director, and the dedicated help of my team: Verona, Bilbo, Jan, Adam, Zaneli and Matthew, along with all of our volunteers and sponsors, which are many, and of course, Alison, our marine biologist – THANK YOU TO YOU ALL! I’m relieved, and somewhat burnt out after months of very hard work while racing against the clock. Now a little rest and then for the real work – the exciting research, education and awareness projects that we have lined up for the rest of the year. Below I invite you to follow the last leg of our journey leading up to our opening…
Colin, our builder, a day before the opening, building the casing for our tank sponsored by Graeme Mc Donald of Eco Acrylics – thank you Graeme for such an awesome gift!
Putting up our foyer lighting – a white shark and fish made by a local artist, Melvin, from paper and wire.
Our signage, sponsored by Graham Bennett, my first dive buddy ever, goes up!
Our white shark sculpture arrives and I give sculptor Chris Bladen a big thank you hug!
Losing it somewhat a day before we open, going insane under the pressure!
Free walking with white sharks! Jannie Wessels of Brightweights, one of our sponsors, carries the white shark we will use at the launch evening to decorate the hall. A big thank you to Iziko Museum for the very kind loan of this model!
The hall 2 days before the big night!
Everything is in place and the show begins! LIGHTS AND ACTION!
A red carpet leads guests into the community hall.
Chris Clarke and I welcome and address the guests
Guests mingle and enjoy the celebration with us.
Here I am with David Muller, an actor pretending to be a fisherman, illegally catching sharks, whom I planted in the audience – he represented the problem and the other side of the story, upsetting a few scientists and conservationists!
Grant Haskins, the Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, cuts the ribbon to the Centre, while Chris Clarke, and SOSSC marine biologist: Alison Kock, SOSSC Chief Scientist: Leonard Compagno and myself standby.
AND NOW, our final product, ta daa, and are we proud and many impressed with our efforts – the Save Our Seas Shark Centre, a unique Rethink the Shark experience, featured here: the foyer, information boards, our donation store, & some of the offices.
We are open to the public and already in our first week so many people have popped in to see us and find out more about what we do and about sharks – this place is going to rock for shark conservation!