21 Days for the Ocean

Through hosting educational talks at various schools, White Shark Projects realized how little the school children of the Overstrand community know about the ocean lapping at their doorsteps. And so, motivated by a sense of responsibility, White Shark Projects launched an educational initiative called The 21 Days for the Ocean.

Through this blue drive, White Shark Projects aspires to raise ocean awareness in our community, which relies indispensably upon marine tourism. Their intention is to make our community aware of how some of our everyday actions impact negatively on the ocean. They will show us which simple steps we can take to prevent further damage. As with everything, education is the key, especially where conservation is concerned. Almost everybody knows about shark-finning, but not many people know about ocean acidification, which ultimately threatens all ocean-dwelling species and our planet as a whole. Thus ocean acidification will be the main focus point of this awareness campaign.

21 Days for the Ocean starts on September the 26th and runs until the 16th of October. It coincides perfectly with the Whale Festival & the school holidays, offering young and old numerous opportunities to get involved and do their bit for the ocean.

They jump start this drive with a sustainable seafood Fundraising Dinner which will be held at La Pentola. There are some exclusive prizes up for grabs, in both the auction as well as in the raffle draw. All proceeds of this event will be donated to The South African Shark Conservancy (SASC), which is based in the Old Harbour.
The other ocean-themed events of The 21 Days for the Ocean include; educational talks at schools, a movie night, a shark camp, a photo exhibition, informative beach walks, coastal clean ups & even a “selfie for the sea” competition. Please see their website www.whitesharkprojects.co.za for more information.

White Shark Projects launched an awareness campaign aptly named “The 21 Days for the Ocean”.

The 21 Days for the Ocean was born from the concept that it takes 21 days to break a habit. And White Shark Projects took it upon themselves to educate the Overstrand community on how to break their bad habits, the daily habits that negatively impact on our ocean.

Through hosting various school talks in the community, it also became evident that the children are not that aware of the ocean they walk or drive by on a daily basis. In order to get people to conserve something, we need to personalise the object for them. And one way of doing this is through education. White Shark Projects is very proud of its responsible tourism badge and we are always ready to put our action where our mouth is! And so The 21 Days for the Ocean was launched.

On Friday the 26th of September, White Shark Projects hosted their first annual Sustainable Seafood Fundraiser. This served as both a launchpad for The 21 Days for the Ocean and as a great opportunity to support one of our local NGO’s. The South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) was elected as the beneficiary of this fundraiser, as what they do and their research is very dear to White Shark Projects. And I am happy to report that the event was a huge success! Fun & Funds ruled the evening as we managed to raise over R30 000 for the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC).

SASC is based in the historic Old Harbour of Hermanus, from where they launch their research projects. SASC is currently running 15 research projects, 13 of which are focused right here in Walker Bay. These projects focus on a wide range of topics, including:

Impacts of micro-plastics (which absorb toxic chemicals such as DDT) on marine animals and their habitats (Plastic oceans).
Baseline marine biodiversity surveys using baited remote underwater video (Walker Bay Watch; Octopus battles rock lobster).
Shark research trying to demystify sharks in the media and public eye through extensive educational programs with children & adults around the world. As an NGO, SASC does not receive any funding from government or academic sources. We feel honoured to have been able to assist SASC to continue doing their research, to the best of their ability, by raising these funds for them.

However, none of this would have been possible without our sponsors. It is with immense gratitude that we’d like to thank all our sponsors for donating such generous prizes.

MORE (Madikwe Safari Lodge, Lion Sands Game Reserve), Samba Tours, Tsogo Sun, Garden Route Game Lodge, Goche Ganas Nature Reserve, Turnberry Hotel, Hotel Verde, Waterfront Adventures, Creation Wines, Table Mountain Cableway, Ashanti Lodge, The PottingShed, Thompsons Africa, Hylton Ross, Tri Active Lodge, Green Gorillas, The Kelway Hotel, Walker Bay Adventures, Southern Right Charters, Big Tree Marketing, Lean on Me, Overberg Asset Management, Hermanus Nissan & Purple Puppy Studio, we could not have done this without your support.

We all know that it’s all about location, location. And considering this there was only ever one option when it came to selecting our venue, and that of course was La Pentola. I approached Chef Shane and from the very beginning he was very open to assisting us, even when I mentioned that we want a very specific menu. We could hardly host a fund raiser dinner for SASC and offer food which were on the SASSI Red list! Especially since the SASSI ambassador, Ray Chaplin, was one of our guests! We were determined to educate our guests to the palate pleasing potential of sustainable seafood. Chef Shane and his team did a marvellous job of transforming the sustainable seafood into tantalizing treats. We introduced our guests to sustainable seafood with Chef Shane’s delectable version of Mussels Provencal. After all the plates were practically licked clean, they were replaced by puffy parcels of Monkfish Thermador, which seemed to just magically melt
in the mouth. Dessert was a creamy traditional Crème Brule which rounded the meal off with perfection. And what would a dinner like this be without complimentary wine? Creation Wines, we thank you for sponsoring the wondrous wine. Both The Shark Ally & The Whale Pod wines were served, perfect blends for a sustainable seafood event.

A great time was had by all as laughter & bids intertwined throughout the auction & raffle draws.
A big thank you to our MC & Auctioneer, Blake Albert, for keeping us all entertained.
On behalf of the sharks & SASC, White Shark Projects would like to thank everybody for their contribution, especially those who bought tickets & who supported us on the night, we are very grateful. Let’s do it all again next year!

Today the volunteers for White Shark Projects participated in a movie night with 6 children from Blommpark as a part of the 21 days of the Ocean. They were bussed over to our volunteer house where we had snacks laid out and a make shift movie theatre set up with our couches.

The first DVD was Great White Shark: A Living Legend, although a documentary with some difficult words, most of the children were enthralled by the scenery and shots of the sharks swimming so close to a person, especially when they began to show the Great Whites fully breaching.

The second movie was an animated film called Sea Level, where a Shy Shark is trying to save some fish eggs and a Great White is trying to save him. With every new character the kids were more excited, be it a turtle manta ray or seahorse they would try to name what they knew about those animals and see if the movie was correct (which most of the time it was not, only exciting them more about how awful the movie really was).

We had a bit of time at the end and got to play some random ball games in the back with whatever paddles or rackets lying around the house, topping off a good 2 hours with the kids of Blompark.

The White Shark Projects team showed their support for the 21 Days for the Ocean

White Shark Projects organized an educational visit for the Jungle Tots Pre-Primary School to the South African Shark Conservancy.

Fun & Games ruled the morning as giggles & squeals were only interrupted by questions of “why” and “can I eat that?” The SASC Interns had their hands full trying to contain the bubbling excitement of the seventeen 4-6 year olds. The interns were incredibly patient and took great care in conveying their knowledge to the energetic tots.

The Jelly tub was a great hit! The tots had to squirm their fingers through multi coloured jelly to find cards depicting different prey and then match it up with the appropriate sharks.

Most of the jelly however ended up being the prey of the tots. Then there was the sandpit where they had to dig up different shark teeth & match it up with the correct shark. Feeding, touching and interacting with the sharks was the ultimate highlight of the day. Leopard sharks & Brown Shy Sharks caused great delight and excitement amongst the fascinated tots.

White Shark Projects would like to thank the enthusiastic team at SASC for their time and energy.

We appreciate all the effort that you put into making the morning a fun yet educational experience for the tots. Here are some of our future Shark Warriors in action!

Monday morning 6 kids from Gansbaai were whisked off to the Mother City for a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium. For most of them it was their first visit to Cape Town and definitely their first visit to an aquarium.

Excitedly they all filed into the aquarium, not sure what to expect, not sure what to do. Once inside though, the marine creatures took charge and filled the kids with wonder & amazement. They were surprised by what they learned: like the fact that a starfish has a brain in each of its arms; that “Nemo-fish” actually exist; that an octopus can squeeze through any hole as long as its beak can fit through it, the actual beak of the octopus was another surprise!

The Shark tank blew their minds, to see Ragged Tooth Sharks up close and personal like that, was a sight they will not forget anytime soon! After an awe inspiring tour to the Kelp Forrest, which had the kids staring with their mouths agape, they took a stroll through the penguin colony. Too soon the time to depart arrived.
The excitement level was still high during their lunch at the Waterfront and on the drive back home the chattering still filled the bus. Another successful, fun-filled and educational day as part of our awareness campaign, the 21 days for the ocean!

White Shark Projects treated a handful of kids to a first-in-a-lifetime-visit to the natural monument of Cape Town; The one, the only, the majestic Table Mountain! The kids were the winners of a little art competition which White Shark Projects arranged after an educational talk at their school in Gansbaai.

The kids & crew queued for over 2 hours in the blazing African sun, patiently awaiting their turn on the aerial cableway, which would transport them to the top of Table Mountain. One boy was so relieved to hear that they did not in fact need oxygen tanks to scale Table Mountain!

The rotating cable-cars and the spectacular scenery caused great excitement. Once on the summit, the breath-taking view was overwhelming. The kids were surprised to see how far the ocean stretched and for how many kilometres they could see into the distance from their vantage point. The crew took this opportunity to explain the meeting of the two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian ocean. They also explained that the reason the sea water is so cold in Cape Town is due to the cold Benguela current that runs up the West coast of Africa.

The basking dassies, or hyrax, were as inquisitive as the children were intrigued. Snacks and drinks were enjoyed on top of the mountain before the slow and steady decent back down to the Mother City.

The kids were delighted with their outing and they are looking forward to White Shark Projects coming to their school again.

Day 7 of our 21 days for the Ocean was unlike any other given Tuesday. White Shark Projects is proud to announce that 122 children from Masakhane in Gansbaai, collected over 380kg of recyclable litter. Litter which included plastic bottles, plastic bags, glass bottles, soda cans & carton boxes. 380kg of litter which would inevitably have added to the immense litter problem in our oceans. Litter which could’ve posed another threat to our precious marine life. Litter which would’ve done its bit to add to the acidification of the ocean.

The children, aged between 4 and 13 years, queued to hand over their collection of litter.

The litter was collected from the streets of their neighbourhood, Masakhane. And in so doing, they didn’t just help the ocean, but it also instilled pride in their surroundings.

They were rewarded for their effort & hard work with points which they could “spend” on goodies such as school stationary, toys or even some bling-bling for their hair. The recyclables were collected by the Overstrand municipality and transported to their recycle plant to be processed.

On behalf of the ocean, White Shark Projects would like to thank the children for their hard work and most importantly for preventing 380kg of litter ending up in the ocean. Thank you for your smiles, thank you for your help. Well done!

Finally the day arrived! It was Friday the 3rd of October, day 8 of our 21 Days for the Ocean and I was walking through the streets of Hermanus with a massive cheque under my arm and an even bigger smile on my dial! I was on my way to a celebratory lunch with my White Shark Projects boss, Charmaine Beukes. Joining us for the celebration was Meaghan McCord Gray & Tamzyn Zweig from the South African Shark Conservancy. And where else could we possibly have met than the fabulous La Pentola Restaurant.

Finally, after a delectable lunch we could hand over the funds we raised for the South African Shark Conservancy during our Sustainable Seafood event. The team from SASC was ecstatic about the cheque for R30 000.00 we handed to them. They are buying a custom-made Perspex touch tank for the shark-lab, which will enable pupils to get even more personal with some of the local marine life on their visits to SASC.

On this 9th day of the 21 Days for the Ocean, I have an important question to ask:
How do you get the man, woman & child on the street to care about the welfare of sharks?
Especially when our days seem to be filled with an insurmountable amount of things to care & worry about. In theory, it’s quite simple really; get the man, woman & child to form a relationship with sharks.

How do we accomplish that? Well, through continuous education! The aim of this exercise is of course for sharks to become personalized to humans; for humans to see the “humanness’ in sharks, their beauty, their perfection, their power & their importance. However all of the above is only possible with funds.

And so White Shark Projects, in conjunction with The South African Shark Conservancy, is proud to launch their “ADOPT A SHARK” project.

Our online fans can choose their favourite from a selection of sharks, become it’s adoptive ‘parent’ and keep in touch with their shark through the bi-annual newsletter, photo’s, data & sighting reports we’ll send them. The funds raised will go directly to SASC, where it will be utilized in the continuous educational enterprise. Adopt a Shark, Save a Shark.

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