South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) is an environmental and educational centre in Port Elizabeth which opened its doors in September 2009 with the aim to care for sick or injured African Penguins because of their vulnerability.
Ms Mandlakazi Skefile, NMBT CEO said, “The important work SAMREC does for the penguin is commendable and necessary for the sustainability of the marine environment and the impact it has on the destinations valuable assets.”
Since the doors first opened, it has developed into so much more with the “SAMREC sea school” that plays a pivotal role with a number of education programmes to schools, clubs and other institutions in the region. SAMREC Sea school teachers also visit both rural and urban schools and use a wide variety of apparatus to expose children (who might not otherwise ever learn about the Ocean) and their teachers to a virtual marine setting. The SAMREC Centre has proved to be an exciting and attractive tourist attraction, recently being named the top tourist attraction in Port Elizabeth by the popular Trip Advisor website.
The islands of Algoa Bay, just off the coast of Port Elizabeth is home to 35 of the 91 recorded Southern African seabird species, of which six of the 14 resident species breed in this area. Approximately half of the world’s population of Cape gannets and the endangered African penguin live here. It is expected, that at the current rate of decline in the population, the African penguin may disappear in less than 5 years time. The deepwater harbour at Coega has added a new threat to the birds as it is situated right next to St Croix Island, which is now the largest breeding colony of the penguin. It costs approximately R1000 to rehabilitate a single bird after incidental oiling.
Sadly, SAMREC is in a critical situation due to high running costs of which the daily electricity consumption is the highest expense. In order to overcome this enormous obstacle SAMREC has decided to “go green” by installing solar panels. Approximately 120 solar panel kits are needed to go of the electricity grid completely and this will enable the centre to be self sufficient. SAMREC is therefore starting a “go green” campaign which allows companies and individuals to sponsor solar panels kits valued at R5000.00 per kit in exchange for various marketing opportunities.
Ms Libby Sharwood of SAMREC advised, “Our monthly electricity account is astronomical and probably equal to that of 6 households together. We would appreciate any offer, advice or sponsorships from any person or company that would like to see us sustain the important work done by SAMREC.”
As per SAMREC since their rehabilitation efforts started many birds, especially the endangered African Penguin, have been successfully rescued, treated and returned to the wild. The motivation to create the centre came from the knowledge that the good health of the Oceans and its resident creatures are vital to the sustainability of our planet.
NMBT is assisting to support SAMREC to lobby for funds and support to keep the doors of this valuable facility and tourist attraction open. Details for sponsorships or support can be found at NMBT on 041 582 2575 or SAMREC on 041 583 2004