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Kholofelo Sethebe

Kholofelo Sethebe

2019 Intern

As a young woman from Limpopo, seeing the ocean for the first time during a school trip to Cape Town is something that Kholofelo Sethebe will never forget, and the reason behind her career choice. 

She works as a Marine Biologist intern at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town where she is introduced to new people every day while also learning about some of our oceans’ most mysterious creatures.
Her dream is to become proficient in sailing and diving, and, even better, to become the first well-known Marine Biologist from Limpopo.

We asked her to share more insights from her experiences as an intern:

What motivated your career choice?
In 2006, I was part of a high school group that visited Cape Town for a field trip. Coming from dry, rural Limpopo and seeing the vast ocean for the first time took my breath away. I was blown away by the experience of being on the boat and visiting Cape Town.  That day, I promised myself that I would return to this beautiful city to study in a field that would allow me to work in and around the ocean.

Back then, my knowledge about the ocean was limited – I didn’t even know what Marine Biology was. Fast-forward seven years and I was doing my undergraduate degree in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of the Western Cape. I am currently completing my Honours degree in Marine Biology at the same institution.
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
It would be great if I could learn more about marine animal behaviours and how they all interact - from predators like sharks to invertebrates like octopuses.
The Two Oceans Aquarium has a rehabilitation facility where rescued animals like penguins and turtles are looked after, and I would love to learn new skills in caring for these animals.

What excites you the most about the internship?
The Two Oceans Aquarium is a one-stop destination that everyone should visit when in Cape Town. Waking up and going to a place like this every day, where I am surrounded by people with passion and by beautiful marine creatures is such a privilege. I enjoy interacting with visitors and gaining varied experiences within the different areas of the aquarium.

What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Despite ongoing efforts of committed environmentalists and others that are passionate about nature, plastic pollution is a growing dilemma. With plastic pollution, we pay a lot of attention to the effects on marine life. This is good but the scope of the problem needs to be broader and understood holistically, in the ocean and on land, to find solutions that address all aspects of the problem.

What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
As a young Marine Biologist my goal is to educate and encourage other people who are beginning their careers.  Considering the influence that young people have, I believe that the best way to promote nature conservation is through South Africa’s youth who have the energy to act for change. I aspire to inspire before I expire because as time goes on I will retire.

If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I wish I could plant a seed of love and appreciation of our planet in everyone’s heart and watch it grow. We are slowly losing our beautiful ecosystems and all the animals and plants in them. It would be wonderful if everyone could be considerate of our natural resources in everything that they do.

Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire my mother for being understanding and supportive throughout my personal and professional life.  No one could ask for a better mother. I am where I am today because of her hard work, motivation, tears and prayers. 

What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
We should start small, thinking about conservation and being open to learn. Unless we are all on board, we won’t be able to protect our world. We need to prioritise protecting our planet because our actions are the reason it is the way it is today.

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