Shark and ocean conservation campaign launches ocean themed puppet show


Shark and ocean conservation campaign, Keep Fin Alive, recently launched an ocean themed puppet show. Esther Jacobs Overbeeke, who founded the campaign, states “we’re trying to embrace an even younger audience than before. Sharks play a vital role to keep our oceans healthy but are a difficult animal to conserve as they’re not as charismatic as other animals. There’s a popular quote by Baba Dioum that states ‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.’ Educating kids about these animals from a young age can build a generation of shark advocates.”

So far, Keep Fin Alive have entertained audiences on beaches during summer season, and also at various preschools. Children and adults alike have really enjoyed the show and Keep Fin Alive aim to deliver the show to a different school every month. Dee Robus, of Little Lighthouse preschool described it as a “wonderfully entertaining and informative puppet show”. Overbeeke says “The star of the show and our campaign mascot, Fin, is very loveable and our other characters help Fin understand why he is so important for our oceans”.

Not only does the show focus on sharks and other marine life, but it also draws attention towards plastic pollution and how it effects marine life. Overbeeke says “My three year old, Alba, has a good understanding of the consequences littering has on our oceans, especially how plastic endangers the lives of marine animals when it is swallowed or they get entangled in it. She’s seen first-hand how it effects animals when she has helped me with the rescue of penguins and seagulls. If we go to the beach, Alba immediately looks around for any plastic and we do a little clean up before we embark on our activities. The few minutes we spend picking up plastic takes so little effort and could save ocean animal’s lives. There are many positive and easy actions that these youngsters can undertake to help reduce plastic pollution and we try to get these actions across to them during the performance”.

Overbeeke plays the roles of Crusty the crab and Dolly the dolphin, with field specialists from Oceans Research (Acheley Nortje, Ralph Watson and Erin Slattery) and White Shark Africa (Valerie Luppino) playing the roles of Fin the shark, Paddle the penguin, Screech the seagull, Tinky the starfish and Silver the snoek. The puppet show script was written by the renowned Veldkerjakkers Puppet Theatre, some of the puppets and the theatre were created by the popular local puppeteer Warren Kimmel of Puppets South Africa, and the show is sponsored by Gouritz Biosphere Reserve, Oceans Research, the Garden Route Casino Community Trust and Mossel Bay Municipality.

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