It is the 23rd of September and another successful 21 Days for the Ocean campaign is done and dusted – and we certainly got our fingers and fins dirty with environmental awareness this year!
The concept of the 21 Days campaign is based on the fact that it takes 21 days to break a habit – and we use this campaign to show the community how some of their daily activities negatively impact on the ocean, plus we educate them on economical ways to combat this.
21 Days 2015 kicked off on the 1st of September, with the thinking that Spring Day is as good a day as any to start spring-cleaning the habits of our community. White Shark Projects visited numerous schools in the Overstrand, doing fun, informative and interactive presentations to the pupils. Teaching them on making the more conscientious choices and saying no thank you to the plastic that we do not need, such as straws and balloons.
On the first Friday of every month, Hermanus has a First Fridays Art Walk – which incorporates 13 galleries. So on the 4th of September, White Shark Projects joined forces with the art community for the FF “Walk our ArtSea town”. The aim was to have access to a different part of our community. Our crew and volunteers mingled with the crowds, talking about art and our campaign. The next morning White Shark Projects set up camp at the Hermanus Craft Market to encourage marketeers to make an ocean pledge.
The South African Shark Conservancy lend a helping fin on the day as members of the public were gently educated on ways to do their bit for the ocean. They held up signs with different messages such as: TAP IT; REFUSE IT; REMOVE IT; REUSE IT; LOVE IT; CONSERVE IT. These then created the pledge that they would undertake. It was a great success and everyone loved having their photo taken with their pledge and our brightly coloured Marine Big 5 mascots.
On Arbour Day, White Shark Projects donated 10 endemic trees to the Blompark community in Gansbaai. Crew and volunteers were encouraged by onlookers as the dug holes and planted the saplings, which will become important carbon sinks. Trees form carbon sinks as they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and keeps it trapped. The ocean is our biggest and most important carbon sink.
We ran a ‘Plastic Bottle Competition’ where we encouraged pupils to collect as many 2 Litre plastic bottles as they can. This was a double-barrelled initiative – 1) It would remove hundreds of plastic bottles from the environment. 2) The bottles were given to the “We Build Zwelihle” initiative, where these bottles are filled with sand and is then used instead of bricks to build houses in the township of Zwelihle. They need 3500 bottles to build one house. The winner, 13 year old Asana, collected 249 bottles. She was rewarded with a Shark Cage Dive with White Shark Projects.
For International Coastal Clean-up Day, White Shark Projects rounded up a 180 six year olds and invaded Grotto Beach in Hermanus. Every little morsel of plastic, fishing line, paper and tin was collected and logged into the Ocean Conservancy database by the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC). This data is integral to the ongoing research as well as keeping the big companies responsible for their waste. If for example the Ocean Conservancy notices that there are numerous reports of branded packaging (of a certain company) in a specific location, they will contact the company and make them aware of it, also trying to encourage them to reduce their impact on the environment.
You 2 Africa held a 6 day long Amazing race for 26 International Agents and the 19th of September was their final day, which they spent in Hermanus with White Shark Projects. We once again joined-up with SASC and we set up various challenges for the teams. First they had to collect 30 pieces of litter and then log it as per Ocean Conservancy instructions. Secondly they were shown different species of sharks and skates, with their matching egg-cases. From there they had to follow clues to make their way to the tidal pool where these egg-cases were hidden. Thirdly they had to race back to the Sharklab and match the egg-cases to the corresponding shark or skate. Team France won this leg of the race.
On Monday the 21st of September, the final day of the 21 Days, White Shark Projects visited the Silwerjarige Diensentrum for the aged in Blompark, Gansbaai. Often ignored and not seen as the treasure coves of history that they are, we decided to have tea with the seniors of this fishing community. We discussed the good old days and how the fishing industry has changed over the decades. They told us stories of the days when they used to process 90 tonnes of Sardines a day, compared to today where the boats are docked for months at a time, waiting for the fish to surface. This is indeed the sad state we find our oceans and seas in today. For decades we indiscriminately raped and pillaged the oceans, permanently destroying ecosystems in the process.
These events were interspersed with online competitions and multiple radio interviews. It is fair to say that the impact of this year’s 21 Days exceeded last year’s success. We are super charged and inspired to rock it again in 2016!
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