April 2014
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FameLabSA 2014
Science Lens winners
Young, innovative and gifted
Intern receives Fellowship in Paris
Transformation in marine science
Looking for the brainiacs of yesteryear
Skies alive with space activities
Training the trainers
On your marks ... Get SET Go!
Schools debates advisory committee
Science community volunteers
The science of giving back
New science communication resource
Bringing nanotech to the disabled
Meet media guru Daryl Ilbury
Water World @ Scifest Africa 2014
Exploring marine science
Sharks, vegetables and alien fish
SAIAB cares
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Sharks, vegetables and alien fish make for fun learning

What do vegetables and fish have in common? Quite a lot, as demonstrated at Scifest Water World in Grahamstown.

Hosted by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), Water World featured exhibitions from, among others, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Bayworld and the SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC).

The venomous lionfish of Cozumel (Picture courtesy of MC Rotfeuerfish)
Fish on the reefs of Cozumel, Mexico

Learners from all over the Eastern Cape came to learn about water and everything that lives in it. They learnt about the structure of fish and how to dissect them with SAIAB Research Associate Wouter Holleman; then discovered the structure of DNA with Senior Molecular Laboratory Assistant Taryn Bodill.

Shark World, an exhibition about the deadliest predator in the ocean, was popular with the learners. The centre-piece of the exhibition was a robotic 3.5-metre great white shark, with movable jaws, gills and tail. This year, for the first time, Water World had a display from Homegrown Practical Aquaponics, a company that uses an aquaponics system to grow vegetables by using nutrients produced by fish waste to fertilise plants.

The lionfish of Cozumel

Fish fundi Dr Karen Anderson gave a talk shop on controlling the lionfish in Cozumel. Since this alien species was discovered in the coral reefs of Mexico in 2009, they have been wreaking havoc on the fragile ecosystem. Dr Anderson said it was important for the learners to understand the ramifications of lionfish not having a proper predator. She used brown striped beans to represent the lionfish and tiny soup beans to demonstrate how the lionfish eat all the baby fish in the coral, and what would happen if the lionfish ate all the little fish.

She also showed a video of snappers and groupers being ‘taught’ to eat lionfish. In the video the snappers and groupers are being fed lionfish by the divers. Dr Anderson will return to Cozumel this year for the 33rd time to continue her study on the fish in the coral reefs. Hopefully she will be back in Grahamstown for the next Scifest Water World to pick up the story.

By Nangamso Myoli, Rhodes University Communications Intern at SAIAB