DURBAN - The South African Association for Marine Biological Research’s (Saambr) conservation strategist Dr Judy Mann has bid farewell to the organisation after 30 years.
In a heartfelt goodbye, Mann-Lang said: “After 30 incredible years at Saambr, I am moving on to become the Executive – Strategic Projects, with the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation in Cape Town.
“While at Saambr, I have had the opportunity to be the Director of Education, Director of uShaka Sea World, Saambr CEO, conservation strategist, and I even had a short stint as an ORI scientist. Saambr has been my home and my life. I truly believe in our mission of ‘helping people to care for the ocean.
“The achievements of Saambr are incredible and I am proud to have played a small part in some of those successes.”
She said her farewell was amazing and it reminded her yet again of the incredible Saambr family.
“We have shared highs and lows, joys and disappointments together, we have argued and agreed, played together and worked exceptionally hard. Thank you to everyone who made my farewell so special – I cried and laughed and cried again, and memories of my farewell will remain in my heart forever.
“I would like to say a very heartfelt thank you to everyone at Saambr, past and present for the support and encouragement, friendship and guidance. There are many areas for collaboration between Two Oceans and Saambr and we will build on those partnerships so that together we can achieve more for ocean conservation,” Mann-Lang continued.
She said she looked forward to seeing Saambr continue to grow, prosper and continue to “help people to care for the ocean”.
Commenting on her departure, Saambr said it was with mixed emotions that they bid farewell to Mann-Lang in March.
“While we wish her well with her new role as Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation strategic projects head, it is very hard for us to let go of someone who has played such a foundational role at Saambr over the last 30 years,” Saambr’s Ann Kunz said.
Kunz said Mann-Lang began her career at Saambr in the fledgling Education Department. After a brief stint as a marine scientist at the Oceanographic Research Institute, Saambr’s research division, she returned to education to grow the department into one of Saambr’s cornerstone operational divisions; these being Sea World, Sea World Education, and ORI.
“Judy’s organisational skills did not go unnoticed, and in 2003 she was asked to lead the transition of our aquarium from a relatively small facility at the end of what was then known as West Street, to one of the largest oceanariums in the world at the time, at uShaka Marine World. It was a very exciting time for Saambr, and Judy led the uShaka Sea World team with a fierce passion and impeccably high standards, ensuring not only that we are a world-class facility, but sometimes world-leading,” Kunz said.
“It was natural that Judy should step into the position of Saambr CEO when it became available, but the administrative position was too divorced from Judy’s passion for conservation and education.”
Kunz said Mann-Lang left Saambr briefly to focus on completing her PhD, and then returned to the fold as our conservation strategist, leading the charge once more, this time building our communications unit to get our conservation message to the world.
“It is hard to put into words what Judy has meant for our organisation, which is why we put our energy into preparing one last “spectacular” show for Judy’s farewell, where everyone, human and animal alike, could express themselves as they wished,” Kunz said.
“It was a farewell that Judy will never forget! But it was certainly not a goodbye. uShaka Sea World and the Two Oceans Aquarium have always had an excellent association, and Judy’s new position will take the relationship to new heights.”