/ 4 March 2016

Something fishy at Scifest Africa 2016!

The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) is the proud host of Water World, the official main festival venue for all water-related activities on the festival programme, including lectures, workshops and exhibitions. 

SAIAB is a recognised centre for study of aquatic biodiversity and serves as a major scientific resource for the knowledge and understanding thereof, making it the perfect host for the Water World programme. Dr Angus Paterson, managing director of SAIAB, says: “Water World provides a unique opportunity to expose young learners and the public to the wonders of the aquatic world. The range of exhibitions, talk-shops and workshops offer insights into aquatic science by a number of leading research units and NGOs.” 

Visitors can meet a singing fish, try their hand at the techniques and tools used in aquatic biodiversity research in apprenticeships, visit the Rhodes University department of ichthyology and fisheries science’s experimental fish farm, take an excursion to the coast, or visit the country’s National Fish Collection. 

Some of the highlights of the programme include three different apprenticeships, where learners are given hands-on experience of what these scientists do on a daily basis. In How, Fishy? become a marine biologist and fish ecologist for a day by helping to sort Ichthyoplankon samples, learning about larval fish development and finding out how fish get to look like fish. Learn more about DNA and its structure in Work with DNA in a Lab! where you can extract DNA from fish in the SAIAB Genetics Lab and discover why DNA is so valuable for biodiversity research. In Fishing with Barcodes, learn about this method of identification and collect data to accompany your barcode, while also exploring the barcode database.  

If you prefer venturing beyond the confines of Grahamstown, why not go on a field trip to the coast? In Exploring Estuaries, visit the inlets between the Great Fish and Kowie Rivers, and learn about different types of estuaries as well as the animal and plant life living in these systems. Sibuya Game Reserve in conjunction with the Sustainable Seas Trust presents A Journey to the Coast, where you will identify, count, measure and photograph animals and plants in the Bushman’s River and Kariega River estuaries as well as the intertidal zone at Kenton-on-Sea. 

Other highlights on the Water World programme include talk-shops and workshops, which are less formal, interactive sessions that afford visitors the opportunity to catch up with recent developments in aquatic science, ask questions to their heart’s content and debate scientific issues. Topics under discussion include the effects of climate change on fish, how consumers can use their purchasing power to help save our dwindling fish stocks and make informed decisions about the fish they buy, as well as life in temporary fresh-water bodies.