Life in the fast conservation lane!
As I write I can hear the shark siren going off at Fish Hoek beach – summer is in the air and white sharks are moving closer inshore, water-users are warned to be careful, act responsibly and adhere to safety warnings please. Exclusion nets are on the cards for a section of Fish Hoek beach to appease the public, and while we in principle do not agree with them, we are willing to give it a chance provided there is no negative impacts on the environment, nor any fatal entanglements.
It has been a while since I blogged; an individual who does not like being slave to anything, I will often give myself space from that which seems to control me – conservation life gets too busy too. Much has happened since my last posts, the CATCHES ANYTHING, KILLS EVERYTHING poster, the great brainwave of Walter Bernardis, the project’s creative director, supported by Johan Boshoff and Trevor Hutton, and the DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS campaign.
To mention just a few highlights of this period, and in order of event, the DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS campaign results. As many know, one of the caps I wear is that of a campaigner, the objective of which is to raise awareness about critical issues facing our oceans and sharks, and thus win support to motivate change. Given limited funding, the process is slow but steady and I believe it begins with winning support from the general public – persistence and perseverance are key to successful campaigning.
Well, even if I say so myself, this was an awesome campaign, and considering our media exposure, which included radio, TV and press, plus our supporters such as THE SHARKS RUGBY team, and all our social media figures, including all the children we presented to, we successfully reached millions of people worldwide. Trevor Hutton, the South African freediving champion, successfully dived to 70m in the shark slaughter grounds off the Durban coast, helping AfriOceans to raise awareness about the plight of our sharks in South Africa. A challenging dive and incredible feat considering the conditions been so far removed from the calm Mediterranean and Red Sea where most competitive freediving takes place. A very big thanks to everyone who helped us in numerous ways to make this campaign the success if was. I am producing a documentary about this campaign, including a short for local TV so will leave the details for you to watch. (See slide show above, selection of images from the campaign.)
Soon after the DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS campaign the AFRIOCEANS held the first AfriOceans Warriors Programme Challenge where each Tribe pitted against the other on a challenging but seriously fun course that included the mud pit, river rope crossing, and much more, to win the floating trophy. The Programme, which is funded by the National Lottery Distribution Fund, is ongoing, remaining the biggest and most comprehensive marine environmental education programme in the country. I am proud of my team led by Terry Corr, Head of Education at AfriOceans, and Charmaine, Ishmael, Noami, Monica, our 2 interns, and volunteers, who daily visit schools and inspire South Africa’s youth to become environmentally conscious ambassadors. (See slide show above, selection of images from Warriors Challenge event.)
This week in partnership with the City of Cape Town, AfriOceans took part in the INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP WEEK involving hundreds of kids who proactively cleaned up their areas, rivers and beaches. As if this is not enough the AfriOceans team has also been performing in the Zibi play at numerous schools in partnership with Waste-Wise to teach the youth about litter in a fun and compelling way. (If you are in the Glencairn area, visit the AfriOceans public office below the Glencairn hotel.) LIKE our AFRIOCEANS WARRIORS Face book page here.
While my team continued their great work, I headed for Cocos and Mexico as part of our RETHINK THE PREDATOR campaign, another ongoing campaign involving photographic expeditions worldwide. Soon I will share the images and stories of this extraordinary expedition, which would never have been possible without the support of Dominick Macan of Dive Advice and the Undersea Hunter Group, and of Rodrigo Friscione but right now we are getting ready for the WHALE FESTIVAL held in Hermanus on the weekend of the 27th September where AFRIOCEANS will have a stand, and Trevor and I will be speaking – make a note and come and visit our stand and attend our talks.
Another highlight is our wonderful and inspiring new AfriOceans Warrior ambassador, Maddie Cranston from Canada, a 9 year old who is changing the way we see our world. This special young girl emailed me while I was traveling, her email so inspiring and her blog messages so important, we have taken her on as an ambassador to help us inspire, not only other children all over the world, but adults on how they too can make a difference to help us save our natural world. Visit Maddie’s blog here.
In the next few months, more photographic expeditions are planned, books being written, documentaries being made, speaking events booked, kids to teach, etc. etc. Life at AfriOceans is busy but special, we are living our dream, doing meaningful work so that when the day is done we sleep peacefully knowing we are making a difference in the lives of many, and toward helping to conserve our oceans. The only thing that gives me insomnia is worrying about sustainable funding to keep doing what must be done. Support us, become a member or make a donation here.
Watch my space!