What a way to go! Just when I thought I could take a breather, World Ocean Day (WOD) crept up on me! We had only been open for two weeks, hardly caught our breaths after that grueling 90 days leading up to the opening, when the next thing we know we have only four days to pull off a whole series of events in order to raise awareness for WOD. But as always, dedicated to our cause and with the great team supporting me, we did it, again!
The celebration began with groups of children arriving early on Friday morning at the Centre for lessons on the ocean. The first group of 24 kids were from the Meadows Montessori pre-school. Verona Smith, our Educator, took them across the road from the Centre to the rock pools where their lesson began. With big smiles and buckets in hand, they explored the pools and collected bits of seaweed and starfish, later returned. A second group from Ocean View Secondary school braved the cool water of the Dalebrook tidal pool, also across the road from the Centre, where they enjoyed a snorkeling lesson given by Gemma Pellet, SOSSC volunteer, and learnt to identify various little ocean creatures.
On Saturday we organized an ocean clean-up under and around the Simonstown jetty. Even though we only advertised the event on the Wednesday, we had a fantastic turnout of 84 divers. It was very encouraging to see how many divers care and were willing to help us make a difference. A massive pile of garbage was the result of our efforts, which was taken for sorting and recycling. It was both disturbing and interesting to see what came out of the sea in less than an hour – everything from toilets, chairs, and toys, to bottles, cans and tons of plastic.
Sponsored prizes by Reef Wetsuits, Two Oceans Aquarium, Brightweights and Alpha Dive Centre were drawn, and each diver went home with a gift pack from the Centre to reward their effort. Because of our great success, we have been asked to make this a regular event and will therefore be working with the dive schools and clubs to organize another clean-up later this year.
The final event was a fantastic presentation by Alison Kock, SOSSC Marine Biologist, on her exciting research on Great White Sharks in False Bay, held in the Centre’s lecture theatre on Sunday night, attended by 40 people. The presentation was opened with an introduction about World Ocean Day by myself and the screening of the documentary, Sharks in Deep Trouble, produced by me, concluded the presentation. Thereafter guests were invited to join us for a braai to celebrate World Ocean Day.
As always successes like this weekend happen because of a lot of special people pulling together, so a big thanks to: Verona Smith our educator for organising Friday, Adam Carnegie our designer, Bilbo for organising Saturday; Matthew and Zaneli – general helpers; Capt.Glen Knox – Simonstown Navy Port Captain; The South African Navy; DIVE LEADERS AND SUPPORTERS: Guido Zsilavecz – SURG; Peter Southwood – SURG – Southern Underwater Research Group; Monty Guest of Underwater Africa & FBUC; Deon Lyons – NSDA; Gerrit Conradie – Sub Atlandian, and Gemma Pellett – SOSSC Volunteer; MEDIA: Jeff Ayliffe of Cape Talk for media coverage and Sophia Stander – underwater press photographer; VOLUNTEERS: Dylan Giffard, Wendy Fourie, Jan de Bruyn, Pam and Johan; OTHER: Staff of Institute of Maritime Technology; Grant Whitford of Blueflash Charters for dive boat; Bertha’s Restaurant & Salty Sea Dog Restaurant for bearing with us taking over the Jetty car park and Cedric Duncan & Wally of STADCO. SPONSORS: Ettiene & Lynn Raal of Alpha Divers; Barry Stringer & Reef Wetsuits SA; Jannie Wessels & Bright Weights; and Milanie and Rene of Two Oceans Aquarium for dealing with the garbage sorting and removal and John Kieser of Coastcare for cleanup bags. CLUBS: False Bay Underwater Club; Sub Atlandian; Belville Underwater Club; Stellenbosch Underwater Club; Old Mutual Underwater Club; UCT Underwater Club AND All other volunteers above and below the water for making WOD a great success.
Last but most definitely not least, I would like to make a very special thanks to Ken Taytasac, a good friend and more, SOSSC volunteer and sponsor, who in about September last year spotted the house which is now our Centre, and encouraged me to call the estate agent and make an appointment to view the premises – from there the rest is history – THANK YOU KEN FOREVER!
Watch this space!
Regards, Lesley Rochat
(Underwater photos: Sophia Stander, all others: Lesley Rochat)