Ocean conservation champion visits Simonstown

LET’S TALK ABOUT … Dr Tony Ribbink of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST), SST patron Dr Sylvia Earle, Nondomiso the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), Hanli Prinsloo of the I Am Water trust and past premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Ben Ngubane at Earle’s talk ‘Sustainable Seas, the vision, the reality’.                                                                    Photographer: Desiree Schirlinger

Dr Sylvia Earle visits Lawhill Maritime Centre

Dr Sylvia Earle recently visited the Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simonstown.

“No ocean means no life, no blue means no green,” said ocean conservation champion, Dr Sylvia Earle at a public talk at the Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simonstown held on Sunday evening, 14 April.

Apart from being an esteemed oceanographer, explorer, author, lecturer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, founder of numerous research foundations and chairperson of the Advisory Council for the Ocean in Google Earth, Dr Earle is also the patron of Grahamstown based charity, the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST). 

The SST along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) are currently on the SAMSA SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour. For four weeks the team will be touring South Africa’s coastline and spreading the word of coastal conservation to everyone from young school children to the various mayors and dignitaries along the way. 

Dr Earle is currently in South Africa to help the team shed some light on the importance of ocean conservation and started off her visit with the Simonstown talk. “Only 5% of our ocean has been explored,” explained Dr Earle, “Yet we’re fishing and destroying and taking from areas that we know nothing about.” 

As part her prize for winning the 2009 TED Talk award, Dr Earle had one wish, that being to establish more marine protected areas around the globe. “Less than 1% of our world’s oceans are properly protected,” explained Dr Earle, “Humans have learned how to consume fish, but we haven’t learned how they live.” 

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet as Dr Earle says, “an experience is worth 1000 pictures.” As an explorer with more than 7 000 hours logged under water, Dr Earle understands the need for humans to directly interact with the ocean if we are to understand how directly it affects us. “I wish I could take all of you, put you in a submersible and we go exploring,” said Dr Earle, “We would travel all the way to the bottom of the sea where the fish that rely on bioluminescence light up the water like fire flies as far as you can see.”

Dr Earle highlighted the necessity for everyone to become involved in protecting our seas, “This is where I applaud the SST, because they’re involving not just the people at the grass roots but also their mayors and other high up dignitaries are being included are approached to help with the positive change,” said Dr Earle, “The SST are taking care of the needs of nature which is taking care of the needs of people.” Dr Earle was joined by past South African Minister of Arts and Culture and former KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Ben Ngubane as well as 11 times South African free diving record holder, Hanli Prinsloo of the I Am Water Trust.

As Hanli Prinsloo said in her address to the crowd, “When we look at our world map, so much of it is blue and yet so little of it is protected.” South African’s everywhere are invited to join the SST and SAMSA on the coastal tour, to make their SEA Pledge and set their own personal goals of how they will contribute to securing the healthy future of our oceans.

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