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It’s time to get stuck in to 2013 and loads of conservation work, but before doing so I would like to reflect back on 2012: what did we achieve (the organisation I founded, AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, and my team and me), how can we improve, how can we have better impact? These are important questions when planning a new year’s conservation strategy. Before summarizing 2012 successors (see also slide show above), it must be said that for me the beginning of a new year is a time to practice gratitude – no success achieved was done in isolation, but supported by many wonderful people to whom I am ever grateful. For the incredible year of many achievements, I thank you all:

2012 began when in January I received a tip-off from the SA Fishery Department that our Minister of Fisheries illegally opened the Langebaan Marine Protected Area and destroyed the population of smooth hound sharks, which had just pupped, and through AfriOceans brought it to public attention, demanding our Minister be accountable; and freediving champion, Trevor Hutton became an AfriOceans Ambassador.

In February & March our AfriOceans Warriors Environmental Programme was in full swing, celebrating World Wetlands day and my wonderful team, led by Terry Corr, would successfully reach 27 000 children by end December 2012. In this month we ran a Shark Education Programme for the Blue Flag Beaches in partnership with the City of Cape Town reaching 720 children, and I was developing the DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS awareness campaign with our ambassador, Trevor Hutton.

In April we launched the DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS campaign; I was fighting fires after a shark attack, appearing live on national TV news, radio and press interviews, and Thorp Fish Hoek kindly sponsored us a car.

May was extra busy: our CATCHES ANYTHING, KILLS EVERYTHING anti-shark net poster campaign of me naked in the shark nets was launched; we participated in the Paddle Out for Sharks event in Durban to help raise awareness about the shark nets of Kwa-Zulu Natal. We did a road show up the South African coast, presenting to various schools as part of our HANDS UP FOR SHARKS campaign, and collected over 1000 children’s hand prints on the 70m scroll (the same depth of Trevor’s deep dive), and which is destined for the Minister’s office. The Sharks Rugby Team became supporters of our DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS campaign and Trevor addressed 35 000 people in the Durban stadium before a big rugby game; and the last day of this month, Trevor dived to 70m in the shark slaughter waters off our coast and successfully helped me raise awareness about the plight of South Africa’s sharks by reaching millions of people worldwide.

In June we hosted our first AfriOceans Warriors Challenge involving our 12 Tribes from various schools and communities, our AfriOceans Warriors from Lavender Hill took part in the Peninsula Paddle at Princess Vlei, and Trevor and I raise awareness during World Oceans Day.

July and August saw me in one of the most beautiful underwater Eden’s left, the Cocos Islands and then in Mexico diving with the mighty whale shark while on photographic expeditions for our Rethink the Predator series of productions. We launched a promo video of the AfriOceans Warriors, conducted Zibi Wastewise performances teaching over 10 000 township children about litter, and took our young Warriors on excursions.

Rethink the shark – Meet Wilson, our totally awesome new TV ad was launched in September, we ran International Coastal Cleanup events for a week in partnership with the City of Cape Town; taught our special needs kids to SCUBA dive, developed beaded bracelet made by our AfriOceans Warriors and did cleanups at all our Blue Schools.

October AfriOceans participated in the Hermanus Whale Festival, reaching 2000 people; we won best overall stand; Trevor and I gave numerous presentations; our AfriOceans Warriors kids went on a white shark cage diving excursion; we participated in the Simonstown Penguin Festival; we ran the Drains to the Oceans Programme with the City of Cape Town, and I continued filming and started editing the SABC2 50|50 insert of DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS.

Time to be underwater again and in November I am back on the Dolphin Dream in the Bahamas on a photographic expedition diving with sharks as part of our Rethink the Predator series; Maddie Cranston, a 9 year old Canadian girl becomes an inspiration and international ambassador for AfriOceans and our AfriOceans Warriors plant trees in Kalk Bay.

In December we don’t slow down and we hold our final AfriOceans Warriors Event involving our growing reach, now 17 Tribes – they display their journals and projects of work done during the year, hold a recycled-waste fashion show, showcase song and dance routines, and compete in an obstacle course for the floating trophy; we select our AfriOceans Warriors Ambassadors; I launch my new website, and our DEEP FREEDIVE FOR SHARKS documentary insert is broadcast to over 1 million South Africans.

And that excludes all the articles I wrote or media coverage we received in order to spread the word further! Phew! Wow! What a year! And 2013 promises to be even fuller, always for our sharks and our oceans so do WATCH MY SPACE!

Wishing you all a wonderful 2013 – May loving kindness and conscious living radiate from you throughout 2013, and the raptures of the deep blue be your regular delight!