The press covered a story this week involving the rescue of an entangled whale near Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape. The NSRI at St Francis Bay, along with trained volunteers from the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN), responded to a distress call and discovered two humpback whales, possibly mother and child, swimming together. The smaller of the two had become tangled in a rope and three flotation bouys.
Craig Lambinon, spokesman for SAWDN said, “In an operation lasting just under 30 minutes all rope and flotation bouys were successfully removed from the whale and recovered.
“The whale appeared not to be injured from the ordeal and appeared to be swimming confidently following the disentanglement, and SAWDN is confident that the operation has been successful.”
The penguins at Boulders beach have also made headlines this week. The area is obviously a major tourist attraction, but due to the ignorance of many visitors, the penguins are not 100 percent safe even in this protected area.
It has been reported that many over enthusiastic tourists get too close to the penguins and even pick them up. This is obviously not ideal as the penguins are frightened and often bite resulting in them being thrown to the ground and hurt.
Tourists are also oblivious to their surroundings, and whilst trying to snap the perfect selfie, walk all over the penguin nests in the area. These birds are on the endangered list and it is a privilege to be able to view them in their natural habitat, but a privilege that one should be mindful of and not abuse.
Francois Louw of SANCCOB says that more signage has been put up to request that the birds are viewed from a safe distance and to be aware of nesting areas on the ground. Four penguin monitors have also been employed to keep an eye on the area and to step in in cases where the birds are in danger.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has made headlines this week with the announcement that they will be embarking on a nationwide project to start a drowning register. Although this may sound like a rather grim undertaking, over 2,000 people drown in South Africa each year and it is believed that this project will provide an up-to-date and real reflection of the problem.
NSRI Chief Executive Cleeve Robertson said, “We don’t have accurate current data, but we estimate that more than 2,000 adults and children die in water every year in South Africa.”
Meriel Bartlett, an NSRI executive director added, “If we can understand the worst areas for drownings, we can better understand how to address the problem.”
A high number of drownings occur in the 9 – 14 year age group and the NSRI currently runs a training programme, the Water-Wise Academy, targeting water safety issues in classrooms across the country. The programme was started in 2006 and has reached over 700,000 children thus far, primarily in under privileged areas.
Bartlett believes that the programme should be a permanent part of the school curriculum.
The beloved navy dog Just Nuisance is soon to be honoured in both a new book and a full length feature film. According to the press, a film about the legendary British Royal Navy dog will soon begin shooting in South Africa. All proceeds from the film will go to local charities and youth groups.
The launch of the book, Able Seaman Just Nuisance, will take place at the Simon’s Town Museum this weekend. According to Sherri Rowe of Dumb Dog Productions, “Our relationship with the Simon’s Town Museum and their staff adds an authentic dimension to the film. The museum has on exhibit his original collar, enlistment papers and much more. We are tremendously excited to bring this project to fruition.”
The big headline this week was the news that Kumi Naidoo will be returning to South Africa. The South African born environmentalist has stepped down as Executive Director for Greenpeace, a position he held for over five years and now wishes to turn his attention to environmental issues here in South Africa. Naidoo stated that after living abroad for more that 17 years, he now feels that his homeland needs him.
What a coup for South Africa and the South African environment!
It appears that Robben Island may finally be getting a new ferry service up and running. According to the local press, a new ferry is set to be delivered by the end of the year and its use will be primarily to transport tourists to and from Robben Island. The announcement was made by Sibongiseni Mkhize, executive at the Robben Island museum.
Although the previous ferry, the Sikhululekile was to be sold, plans are now in place to once again repair the vessel and have her ready as back up for the new ferry.
To celebrate its 200th birthday the island of Tristan da Cunha has decided to open up a worldwide competition searching for ideas to assist with development of infrastructure on the island, as well as moving it into the future with a general make over and plans for self sufficiency.
According to the press the competition is open to any design team from around the world as long as they are lead by a registered and practising architect. Entries for phase one must be in by 2 June 2015 and the judges will choose five entries from these to move on to phase two of the development.
Talk about thinking outside the box. Hats off to Tristan da Cunha, let’s hope that the gamble pays off.
This week the press is covering the investigation by the SA Navy into why a warship fired a heavy-calibre weapon at a fishing vessel during a naval exercise.
The exercise took place offshore Agulhas in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week during a joint naval exercise between the South African and German navies.
Anthony Day and nine other fishermen were involved in the incident and are so badly shaken that they have spoken to a trauma counsellor.
SA spokesman for the SA Navy has confirmed that the incident did in fact take place, but that navigation warnings about naval exercises are sent out via radio to all fishing clubs and harbours before these types of exercises take place. Day says that he received no such warning.
“My radio was on from 2am and there was no warning,” said Day.
The German Navy has not responded to the incident, other than to say that they will be making a joint statement with the SA Navy. At this point no such statement has been released.
Also mentioned in the press this week is the art exhibition entitled: Gateway to Antarctic, currently taking place at the Iziko Maritime Centre at the Union Castle building in the V&A Waterfront. Art works of Antarctic vessels by Elf van Bilas are being displayed by the South African Shipping Society in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch’s Antarctic Heritage Project and the Iziko museum. The idea behind the exhibition is to generate awareness around South Africa’s involvement with Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.