Surf and Ocean Fest kicks off with conservation chat

Oceans Alive, a talk around conservation, coastal community and ocean care, took place at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Tuesday March 1.

The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival, which features activities around the city until Friday March 11, kicked off with the return of Oceans Alive, a talk around conservation, coastal community and ocean care.

The event took place at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Tuesday March 1.

Hosted by ocean conservation organisations Wavescape, Sentinel Ocean Alliance, and Gone Outdoor, Oceans Alive speaks to “people of the sea” who belong to organisations tackling a plethora of issues facing the ocean and coastal communities around South Africa.

Former CEO of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation Maryke Musson and founder of Wavescape Steve Pike hosted the talk, which profiled people from Sentinel Ocean Alliance, Sea Change Project, Parley for the Oceans, Litterboom Project and Protect the West Coast.

Mr Pike said he was excited that the event was in-person for the first time in two years, due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Each project works with coastal communities and educates people about the ocean; works to educate and reduce ocean pollution, and advocates for the ocean. The talks were followed by short films detailing their work in communities.

“We are so excited to share these inspiring and informative conversations and collaborations by real ocean people about real ocean impacts. This is the blue culture of actioning conservation, supporting coastal livelihoods, and growing ocean-kindness and opportunities,” said Ms Musson.

Kholofelo Sethebe, an educator at the Parley Ocean School in Hout Bay.

One of the speakers, Kholofelo Sethebe, works at the Parley Ocean School in Hout Bay, which educates the youth about the ocean, said the organisation aims to bring children from coastal communities closer to the ocean so that they can learn to love it.

She said most children either fear the ocean or don’t have access to it, and many lack knowledge of the ocean.

She said the Parley School runs numerous ocean education programmes, where they give youth a deeper understanding of the ocean, and also speak about the threats the oceans are facing – the biggest one being plastic pollution.

“We also introduce the kids to the ocean with a learn-to- swim programme. We educate them about the waves; how and when to swim, and to love the ocean. We want our kids to understand the ocean.”

Josh Redman from the Litterboom project.

Josh Redman from Durban runs a project called the Litterboom Project, aimed at stopping rubbish at the rivers before it gets into the ocean.

Mr Redman said they have recently established teams in Cape Town as well.

He said the team places a PVC pipe from one end of the river to the other to act as a boom, stopping most of the rubbish in the river before it gets to the ocean.

He said the rubbish is then collected by their teams, and recycled or taken to the landfill.

He said while the problem was much bigger than collecting litter, it made a small difference to the amount of rubbish landing up in the oceans and killing marine life.

“The amount of rubbish is unreal. We need to start looking at how to reduce plastic pollution.“

Louise Frankel of the Sea Change Project spoke of the organisation’s global project called Forest of the Sea, an initiative that explores, studies and protects the world’s remaining kelp forests.

The talk is among many other activities that will take place this week until Thursday as part of the festival, which will be hosted as an in-person event this year.

Some of the highlights include eight surfboards decorated by South African artists which will be exhibited at Jack Black’s Taproom in Diep River, followed by an auction for ocean charities on Wednesday March 9 with comedian Nik Rabinowitz as the auctioneer for the night.

Participating artists are artboard stalwart Brett Murray, as well as Norman O’Flynn, Richard Joshua, Bruno Morphet, Alicia McFadzean and Christiaan Conradie. Proceeds from the auction go to NSRI, The Shark Spotters, 9MilesProject and The Beach -Co-op.

Other events include five days of ocean and surfing films at four venues: The Labia Theatre in the CBD; The Galileo outdoor cinema at Kirstenbosch; a screening in Kommetjie, and ending with a Vans night at The Shred skatepark in Paarden Eiland.

The theme for this year’s Wesgro Blue Ocean Master Class tomorrow, Tuesday March 8, will focus on sharing knowledge and skills on the art of filming underwater.

Festival director Shani Judes said in this difficult era in human history, it was important to recognise and promote the symbiotic connectedness between humans and nature.

“We really want to remind people that you cannot protect something that you do not love.

“In order to encourage this theme of rejuvenation, the festival presents events that not only celebrate surfing and the ocean but highlights innovative scientific projects and creative techniques and tools, as well as conservation strategies and tactics, to aid us as we seek to strengthen our role as custodians of the wild spaces and creatures of the ocean,” she said.

Tickets for remaining events can be bought at Quicket. For more information, visit