Finally meeting after a year and a half
AtlantECO held its third general assembly meeting in Cape Town, South Africa and after more than 18 months of working mainly online, many of the partners were finally able to meet in person for the first time! Thanks to our wonderful host, the University of Cape Town, we all had an amazing time.
As the Tara schooner arrive in Cape Town after crossing the Atlantic, we had an opportunity to couple the port call from the Mission Microbiomes, of the Fondation Tara Ocean, with a 10 days programme of activities in the beautiful South African city, right on the Waterfront. Read on to learn about what we have been up to, you can also see the photo report with snapshots of the events.
Scientific discussions and workshops
During the week, the scientific team met to share the work that is happening at the moment in the project. From looking at the first models, to meeting the Early Stage Researchers and learning about the experiences and plans of the flagship expeditions, the discussions were rich and inspiring. We have already achieved a lot in AtlantECO and there is so much more to come
in the 3.5 years we have left of the adventure!
Learning from the local stakeholders
We organised a range of events to exchange ideas and knowledge with local actors working towards ocean preservation and involved in marine sciences. These were invaluable experiences to gain deeper insight into local context, cultures, policies, challenges and opportunities.
During the policy event, we had the chance to exchange on the science we need for the ocean we want as well as getting a better understanding of the issues and challenges for ocean protection in South Africa.
The public conference "join the wave to protect the ocean" brought together many local individuals and organisations who are inspired, committed and mobilised for the ocean. The speakers shared their insight on ways to get engaged for the ocean and means to share and inspire others to join the wave.
During the Ocean Cultures event, we discovered the role different approaches and methodologies play in developing holistic ocean knowledges through three keynote speakers who, drawing on work carried out in southern Africa, shared with us their experience of marine sciences education, cultural heritage and integrated approaches in pursuit of sustainability.
Delivering training to a cohort of young scientists
A 10-day "Hands-on Training Course on Sampling and analysis methods for marine microbiomes, plastics and the plastisphere" was delivered in Cape Town and Pretoria. It gathered 21 early career scientists from 12 countries along the Atlantic coast of Africa with the objectives to generate interest in, and hands-on experience with sampling & analysis protocols; seed a network of individuals/labs along the Atlantic coast of Africa and set the stage for coordinated sampling efforts, e.g. All Atlantic Ocean Sampling Day.
Trainees will take part in the All Atlantic Ocean Sampling Day, and some will join Mission Microbiomes on board Tara in Namibia, Angola and Senegal. The group set out a plan with the support of AtlantECO to (1) maintain a network of early career scientists in Africa, (2) write a white paper that drafts a set of collaborative projects & protocols, and (3) look for funding to support the proposed collaborative projects.
Activities with the public during the port call
With the presence of Tara in Cape Town, we had the opportunity to engage with local communities, with activities organised by the Tara Ocean Foundation.
School and public visits of the Tara schooner, local students interacting with the public during the exhibitions and workshops
The programme included school and public visits of the boat, an exhibition explaining Tara's current expedition, Mission Microbiomes, public workshops to learn about plastic pollution and get familiar with the invisible with animations around the Plankton Planet Curiosity microscope.
Arts and media events were also organised with a film festival and a mural realised by local artists.
Film makers and local artists sharing their experience and perspective of the Ocean with the local public.
The sites and sights in and around Cape Town
Here are a few of the beautiful landscapes we were able to visit and witness during our stay there... a beautiful place where two oceans meet!