Scientists are comfortable with plans for uShaka NYE event: iLIVE
"Over the past days scientists at the South African Association for Marine Biological Research, who care for the uShaka Sea World animals, have considered the concerns of activists about a planned NYE event to be hosted at uShaka Marine World.
SAAMBR, which has been caring for marine animals for over 60 years is satisfied that the proposed event will not affect the animals. SAAMBR would not allow an event that would compromise the well-being of our animals."
A meeting was held between 10h00 and 13h00 on Thursday 27 December to discuss opposition to the hosting of the NYE 2013 Bermuda Triangle Party at uShaka.
The meeting was attended by 21 people in total, comprising 11 activists and the event organiser, scientists and staff charged with the care of the marine life, eThekwini councillors and officials from the uShaka management team.
The meeting included a tour of the areas of uShaka to be used in the event, and a discussion around the concerns of activists for the marine life at uShaka.
Activists were shown the three proposed venues: the Upper Deck of the ship, the Cargo Hold Restaurant, and the Moyo Restaurant and the event organiser outlined the plans for each venue.
The event starts at 8.30PM and each venue will offer a different genre of music. The Upper Deck will feature commercial, Hip Hop and R&B music. The Cargo Hold restaurant will operate as a VIP area and feature retro & classics. The main event that features world number 1 female DJ Lisa Lashes will take place at Moyo’s.
Although past experience has shown that after midnight, patrons will begin to head home, the Upper Deck and Cargo Hold restaurant areas will officially close at 1am & 2am respectively consolidating the event at Moyo’s. The sound levels will be limited to 95db. The event is limited to 800 people in total.
Marine life is safe
The initial concerns highlighted in the petition to stop the event were about the danger the function posed to dolphins. However, the focus of concern during the meeting was the threat to the sharks in the exhibit at the Cargo Hold restaurant and the other marine life in the exhibits surrounding the ship near the Upper Deck venue.
This change in focus is as a result of the realisation that the event is being hosted over 250m away from the dolphinarium.
The petition linked the New Years Eve event to a massive weekend long rave that happened in Europe alongside a dolphinarium.
During that event two dolphins were fed a drug by the rave goers which resulted in their death.
It is very misleading to connect the events following a two day techno rave in Europe to a New Years eve event being planned for uShaka Marine World. It was this linkage created by the petition that resulted in the signatures.
SAAMBR CEO, Judy Mann briefed the meeting about the concerns expressed by activists, regarding the loudness and persistence of the music from the event, which they believed could pose a potential danger to marine animals in the exhibits.
A great deal of scientific information was covered during the briefing and the scientists were confident that the event would not affect the marine animals at uShaka.
Research shows that loud music does not affect sharks
Shark senses include electroreception and a lateral line system, in addition to smell, sight, hearing, touch and taste.
Research that is available has shown that their sense of hearing is relatively poor, as they rely more on their other senses, such as electroreception and smell. In the restaurant the exhibit windows are 15 - 18 cm thick acrylic, and sound is attenuated through the acrylic before entering the water.
From the surface the sound will be reflected as it reaches the water surface, with resulting decrease in sound.
Construction noise, including jackhammering, which is very loud and transmitted through concrete, has been observed to have no impact on the sharks and fish at uShaka.
The dolphinarium is over 250m away from the Upper Deck restaurant.
Lighting is also carefully managed to ensure that there is no impact on the animals.
Event management security
Strict safety and security measures will be in place and carried out by a dedicated team of security professionals. They will be responsible for access control (including searching), crowd control & protection (animal, person & premises). Police will also be on hand to support the security staff to ensure a safe and secure event.
Security on the Ship will be especially tight to avoid anything being dropped into the exhibits. The shade cloth over the exhibit will be opened, as is usual during these events and additional shade cloth will be added to the Cargo Hold exhibit.
However, should something be dropped into the water, staff will be on hand to remove it, with specially adapted nets.
The filtration system for the large exhibits includes protein skimmers, sand filters and ozone and is extremely efficient; the entire volume of the water in the exhibit passes through the filters every 60 – 90 minutes.
Internationally, many aquariums hold functions such as these in their exhibit areas. Communication with these aquariums, including the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Epcot Centre (Disney World), Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Ocean Park in Hong Kong, has revealed that the events have no impact on the behaviour or the health of the animals in their exhibits.
In fact, uShaka has hosted a number of parties in the past and the health of the animals has not been compromised.
Monitoring during the event
The animals at uShaka Sea World are monitored 24 hours a day.
Water quality in each exhibit is checked daily, as is animal behaviour and health. In fact a team of water quality specialists, vets, laboratory technicians and vet nurses manage the health of all of the animals.
As is done during all major events, during the NYE event, a number of staff will be present to monitor animal behaviour. For this event it will include sound level measurements in air, as well as animal behaviour monitoring.
In addition, the behaviour of the guests will also be monitored by security staff.
Committed to conservation and education
uShaka SeaWorld, is a division of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research, which includes the Oceanographic Research Institute and the Education Centre. We have a history of 60 years of exemplary and world-class animal care.
Unfortunately incorrect perceptions were created by the event, and the only way to remedy this is to focus on the facts. However, the concern that some people have expressed about this event is a positive indication that people do care about sharks and fish, and this bodes well for the future conservation of our oceans, as thousands of marine animals killed in our oceans on a daily basis.
"SAAMBR appreciates the recent interaction with stakeholders and looks forward to continued interaction over the on-going work of marine conservation and education."
Statement issued by Judy Mann, CEO (SAAMBR)