Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot Launched

It is every conservationists dream to meet their Icon in the field in which they specialize, meeting them is special, but having the opportunity to host an array of conservation visionaries for a morning is an honour very few people are bestowed with.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer and Ocean Guardian and founder of the Mission Blue Hope Spot Initiative, visited the Overstrand to launce our newly proclaimed Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. On Sunday, 7th December 2014, she was hosted at the Great White House in Kleinbaai where she met with Wilfred Chivell and the local like minded supporters of marine conservation. 

During these proceedings a once in a lifetime opportunity arose to get the major role players in conservation in the Overstrand – as well as one of our Icons, Hanli Prinsloo, together with Dr. Sylvia Earle for a photograph.

 The group of people in this photograph are invested in the conservation of our marine heritage. It is up to our generation to urgently preserve that which we still have ensuring the survival and health of our planet. This was a very special moment for all present at this event, one which will most assuredly never be repeated again.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned oceanographer has led more than 100 expeditions with more than 7000 hours underwater exploring the deepest parts of the ocean. Lecturer and author of over 150 publications, she has previously served as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her involvement and commitment to ocean research and conservation has won her more than 100 awards and the position of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Her efforts to protect the ‘blue heart of the planet’ won Earle a TED Prize in 2009 and with TED's support; she launched Mission Blue, which aims to establish marine protected areas (dubbed "hope spots") around the globe. www.mission-blue.org

 Mayor Nicolette Botha-Guthrie of the Overstrand Municipality (www.overstrand.gov.za) supports conservation with vigour and has contributed and led the Overstrand to win various conservation orientated awards during her mayoral term.

Hanli Prinsloo (www.iamwater.co.za) is a true ocean ambassador, with a deep understanding and respect for all our oceanic creatures, and compassion for people beyond measure. Award winning South African Free diving Record Holder 11 times over, Hanli is referred to as a mermaid. Her I Am Water Trust promotes ocean conservation through human experience with attention to those who are not privileged enough to share in its beauty.  Hanli is also a motivational speaker, documentary filmmaker and ocean adventurer. www.hanliprinsloo.com

Liezl Bezuidenhout heads up the Environmental arm of the Overstrand Municipality (www.overstrand.gov.za), and stood at the forefront of the organizing of this initiative.

Wilfred Chivell is an award winning conservationist and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. He uses his eco- tourism businesses to support scientific research that can ultimately affect conservation decisions at government level. The DICT is committed to the conservation and research of the Marine Big 5™ - the endangered African penguin, the Great White Shark, the Cape fur seal and the whales and dolphins of the unique Dyer Island ecosystem.  www.dict.org.za

This Mission Blue initiative defines Hope Spots as special conservation areas that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Some of these Hope Spots are already formally protected, while others still need protection. Mission Blue is committed to changing this. Networks of Hope Spots maintain biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive. Through engaging governments, businesses, schools, research organizations, universities, civil society and the media, Mission Blue hopes to effect significant changes so that future generations can thrive on a healthy planet, with a healthy ocean. Our 200km long Cape Whale Coast area from Rooi Els to Quoin Point is unique in its combination of rich and abundant biodiversity, spectacular scenery and cultural heritage.

In February 2014, a group of like minded people came together to listen to Dr. Tony Ribbink from the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) about the plans to proclaim 5 Hope Spots in South Africa.

The choice of participation was left up to the initial Hope Spot Committee,  and a sober decision was made to have to feasibility study done to ascertain if this was viable for our region.

Wilfred Chivell (Marine Dynamics Shark Tours www.sharkwatchsa.com ) and Pierre De Villiers (Cape Nature www.capenature.co.za ) funded this study, done by Marienne De Villiers which highlighted over and above all the benefits a Hope Spot can bring for the local communities, tourism and conservation of our marine resources.

Together with supporting organizations, such as the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, the Overstrand Municipality and Cape Nature championed this initiative – facilitated by the Sustainable Seas Trust and the official launch of this newly proclaimed conservation area took place on the 6th December 2014. The main objective? The gaining of public support for marine conservation, the reawakening of our pride in the cultural marine heritage which our communities thrive on, and the continued promotion of the Overstrand as a tourism destination.  For more information on the Hope Spots, please contact Alouise Lynch of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust – email office@dict.org.za, or via phone 082 907 5607.

Thank you for your continued support – conservation solutions comes from individuals, remember, Your Choice Makes a Difference.

Conservation Leaders come together at the Great White House in Kleinbaai - FLTR Liezl Bezuidenhout, Mayor Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, Dr. Sylvia A Earle, Wilfred Chivell and Hanli Prinsloo