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Make waves for our oceans by sharing what you know and protecting what you love…

…in a collective effort to support coastal conservation in South Africa and to involve local communities whose livelihoods depend on our oceans! The Sea Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Coastal Tour is a 2 000-kilometre journey and will offer amazing opportunities to interact with renowned guest speakers and ocean lovers along the way. The Sea Pledge is an initiative by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) that strives towards education and outreach for the conservation and benefit of our oceans.

Making waves: Dr Tony Ribbink (SST Director), Dr Sylvia Earle (SST Patron), Nondomiso Mfenyana (SAMSA), Hanli Prinsloo (11-times South African free diving champion and founder of the I am Water Conservation Trust), and Dr Ben Ngubane (SST Trustee and past premier of KwaZulu-Natal) at the SST Sea Pledge tour launch in Cape Town. © SST
Making waves: Dr Tony Ribbink (SST Director), Dr Sylvia Earle (SST Patron), Nondomiso Mfenyana (SAMSA), Hanli Prinsloo (11-times South African free diving champion and founder of the I am Water Conservation Trust), and Dr Ben Ngubane (SST Trustee and past premier of KwaZulu-Natal) at the SST Sea Pledge tour launch in Cape Town. © SST

During the inspiring tour launch at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town last Monday, 15 April, I had the pleasure and honour to share a few words with world-famous ocean conservationist and National Geographic Explorer-in-residence, ‘Her Deepness’ Dr Sylvia Earle. Read my interview on why she became an ocean lover and why she thinks diving in the kelp forests around Cape Town is ‘cool, man’!

Q: At the beginning of the evening, Hanli Prinsloo asked everyone to close their eyes and think of their first memory of the oceans. What is yours?

A: I was three years old and on the shore of New Jersey [US], playing in the water when a big wave surprised me and knocked me over. It neither hurt nor frightened me, but caught my attention. That moment fuelled my fascination for our oceans and I have never stopped loving them. I have another memory of horseshoe crabs. Back then, I was only a child and I recall adults telling me not to touch them! Today I know they are living fossils and I remember all I ever wanted to do was interact with them in one way or another.’

Dr Sylvia Earle: ‘The woman who has spent more time under water [over 7 000 hours] than any of us and a true beacon of hope’, as introduced by Dr Tony Ribbink. © SST
Dr Sylvia Earle: ‘The woman who has spent more time under water [over 7 000 hours] than any of us and a true beacon of hope’, as introduced by Dr Tony Ribbink. © SST
Q: With all you have accomplished and all the hours of diving you’ve logged, have you also fulfilled a childhood dream somewhere along the way?

A: My dream has always been to go deep under water and to develop systems that enable us to go to the full depth of the oceans. There exist so many deep places that are still undiscovered. That’s one of my goals. I would also like to see people’s attitudes towards our oceans change. We shouldn’t think of our oceans as dumpsites for our plastic and other garbage. We need to develop our commitment to respecting the oceans and everything that lives in them.’

Q: If you could transform into a sea creature, which one would that be?

A: I am already one, as a human. We are all sea creatures – dry sea creatures – and we all carry an ocean inside of us. I love each and every aquatic creature for what they are and what they do. And for what they give to us.’

Q: You have dived along South Africa’s coast. Is there one dive in particular you have a very fond memory of?

A: I much enjoyed my dives in Sodwana Bay. They were truly wonderful. And also in the kelp forests around Cape Town. That was cool. Not as in cold, but as in ‘yeah, man!’

© SST
© SST

The SST Coastal Tour will end in Sodwana Bay on 9 May. Read more about it in our July issue of Africa Geographic! For further information about how to get involved and how to make a Sea Pledge, visit http://sst.org.za/ and https://www.facebook.com/seapledge

Ndumu River Lodge
Natalia Flemming

Running free in the wild may be simply a dream for many in today’s constraining world. In my case, the quest for ‘mamofa’ country (miles and miles of f*** all, as once aptly expressed by an exploration geochemist from the University of Cape Town) has become an integral cornerstone of everyday life which I’ve had the fortune to nurture both above and below water, on snow-covered mountain slopes and desert dunes, along forested fjords and in the dry bushveld. On my journeys I have enjoyed the occasional company of snakes, parrotfish and giant fruit bats and have always shared my adventures with good friends or fellow long- and snowboarders. Born in Cape Town, raised in Germany and Switzerland, and travelling in Namibia and South Africa during lengthy visits to family and childhood friends, I can converse with humans in four languages (English, German, French, Italian) but the language of the wild remains elusive. It is for this reason that I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been accepted as an intern at Africa Geographic in Cape Town. This extramural practical forms part of my studies in International Journalism at the University of Bremen, northern Germany. When I’m not out and about, you can find and visit me on my blog: framedbynataliaflemming.wordpress.com