Cape Town is not called the Cape of Storms for no reason. December is a notoriously windy month, and Friday the 5th was no exception!
Dr Sylvia Earle arrived to a windswept False Bay, white caps chasing each other across glass-green water. But the Cape Peninsula is not called the Cape of Good Hope for no reason either, and there was no way rough seas was going to keep the local organisers of the False Bay Hope Spot out the water!
While Morne Hardenberg from Shark Explorers prepared the boat for a bumpy Seven Gill Shark dive, I AM WATER Instructors Beth Neale and Jess Gould got nine Sanparks Marine Rangers into some deep breathing and lung opening yoga stretches. I AM WATER believes in ocean conservation through human experience, and what better way to celebrate our oceans and the launch of the Mission Blue Hope Spot Tour in South Africa than to get the rangers to see their beautiful protectorate from beneath!
Acclaimed filmmaker and storyteller Craig Foster inspired the rangers & Mission Blue team with stories of his intimate relationships with the small critters inhabiting the False Bay shallows, while shark expert Dr Alison Kock shared the unique behaviours of the Seven Gill sharks and smaller endemic shark species.
Braving rolling swells and tossing surge, Mission Blue’s Kip Evans with big camera in hand descended into the kelp forests, leaving the choppy surface to enter a world of quiet and abundance. As this part of the False Bay Hope Spot is a Marine Protected Area and a no take zone, large reef fish, abalone and a proliferation of smaller sharks and critters entertain scuba divers and freedivers alike.
Dr Earle was joined on the dive by I AM WATER founder and South African freediving record holder, Hanli Prinsloo and photographer Peter Marshall, diving down on big breaths to visit the scuba divers on the bottom.
Some learning snorkel skills for the first time, the I AM WATER team got the marine park rangers comfortable in the water.
“It was an amazing experience in the ocean with I AM WATER. I’m not scared of water any more and I had a big fear before!” says Thandiswa Dumo, Marine Unit Ranger for Table Mountain National Park, who had never been swimming, but after spending an hour in the water with the I AM WATER team, she was snorkeling , laughing and falling in love with the ocean.
South Africa’s contrasting coasts and magnificent marine biodiversity is worth celebrating and treasuring. The Sustainable Seas Trust, under Dr Tony Ribbink, is leading the charge in encouraging South Africans to share in the Hope Spot story.
For more information on the South African Hope Spot tour click here.
For more about Dr Sylvia Earle and the Mission Blue Hope Spots, click here.