In 2000 the reality of the Coega Harbour project and the possible threat to the marine ecosystem raised many issues amongst conservationists and the business sector. With the increased shipping traffic in Algoa Bay the threat of an oil spill or indiscriminate dumping of bunker oil became a mounting concern.
As a result SAMREC was established as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for marine animals. Their primary focus is on marine birds, specifically the endangered African Penguin. They aim to:
- Form and maintain an effective coastal network to respond to any strandings.
- Rescue and rehabilitate animals in need of help and, where possible, return them to the wild.
- Be prepared to respond to a major oil spill and rehabilitate any compromised marine life.
- Provide research facilities and opportunities to scientists and veterinary specialists.
- Create awareness for the need for coastal conservation.
- Educate the public on how to care for our great asset and to save it for future generations.
To assist in attaining these goals they have established the SAMREC Sea School. Here children and adults are educated utilizing visual aids and a variety of hands on experiences. These programmes are continually being expanded to comply with teachers requests.
SAMREC educators visit clubs, libraries, institutions, homes for the aged and rural communities. The people are encouraged to look, taste, smell, feel and hear the sea through the use of specimens. They are taught about the dangers of pollution and the need for conservation.
SAMREC offer their facilities to tertiary institutions for use by their post graduate students. By doing this they hope to encourage research on the African Penguin and Cape Fur Seal.
When visiting SAMREC you will be able to view the animals in rehabilitation, hike along the beach, explore the rock pools and view the Cape Recife Lighthouse. Afterwards enjoy refreshments at the Flying Penguin Cafe. They are open daily to all visitors and the venue is available for small functions and events.
SAMREC is a registered Non Profit Organization (NPO) which means that a donation made to them is tax deductible for South African tax payers. You can assist them by becoming a supporter. A annual membership fee is charged and in return you receive free access to the facility and a regular newsletter. Another option is to buy a anodised gold or silver penguin disc or a disc with an engraved plaque. The first one is a perfect gift idea and the second will be displayed on the Wall of Honour in the foyer.3 In addition they also need items like stationery, printers, etc. The link at the bottom of the article will take you to a list of items they require. Please take a moment to look at it, your rubbish may just help in saving a marine animal in distress.
SAMREC is dependent on volunteers who offer any skill that could be of assistance. They have ongoing training sessions covering all aspects of marine animal rehabilitation. The volunteers are equipped to handle daily incidents, as well as oil spill disasters and other emergencies. Feel free to volunteer your services. The link at the bottom of the article will take you to the volunteers section of their website.4