It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. It is evident that because of our impact, marine ecosystems are drowning in trash, noise, oil, and carbon emissions. What we seem to forget is that covering more than 70 percent of the earth, our oceans are among the earth’s most valuable natural resources. They govern the weather, clean the air, help feed the world, and provide a living for millions. Because of overfishing, populations of marine species are either becoming depleted or very underpopulated in certain parts of the ocean. If we want future generations to enjoy the benefits our oceans provide, the time to act is now.
It is against this background that WILDOCEANS was born in the context of accelerated plans for development in the Southern African marine sector and the sustainable development goals of the Blue Economy.
Our Oceanic Research Yacht, the RV Angra Pequena, provides a unique platform for offshore marine science and capacity-building, and conservation expeditions. This classic 72ft vessel provides opportunity for sea-going mentorship to marine science students (the Ocean Stewards), conducts valuable marine research and provides a platform for conservation stories to be filmed and told worldwide. She is equipped with a crane, winches, dive compressor and a semi-rigid inflatable boat and offers a good platform for diver and deck observation studies. The RV Angra Pequena can stay at sea for over 30 days with a fuel range of 3000 NM.
Ocean Stewards exposes students to offshore marine research and aims to create a growing community of ocean advocates through giving them an experiential journey. This project aims to build capacity in the sector, while contributing to important scientific research that will help to build the case for the protection of our coastlines.
The Whale Time project aims to bring science, conservation, tourism and community together around the iconic humpback whale species that migrates along the east coast of South Africa annually. It provides a platform for a coastal community-based “citizen science” movement that brings benefits, not only for the conservation of whales and their ocean environment, but also for coastal communities. Citizens are asked to take pictures of any humpback whale sightings and record them on www.whaletime.co.za to contribute towards a catalogue process that will help scientists understand the species better and try decipher how many whales we have migrating along our coast. Whale Time is engaging and training tour-guides from disadvantaged communities, who are currently conducting tours at the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban to spread awareness about whales, their history, the opportunities they present and the threats they face. The hope is that all guides taken through this “Whale Time” learning journey will find employment as a Tour Guide or be equipped with the skills to secure permanent employment.
The Blue Crew, a team of local female entrepreneurs, hope to address both the environmental and social challenges linked to waste accumulating along our coastline. These ambassadors for the blue economy clean up our coast daily and inspire others to do the same. The Blue Crew also barter the waste they collect with the WILDTRUST (who then recycle it) in exchange for cash, and thus generate livelihood support for themselves whilst cleaning up critical ecosystems.
The Marine Protected Area (MPA) Expansion Project
The Marine Protected Areas Expansion Project aims to build support amongst public and ocean stakeholders for MPAs by creating awareness of their value for provision of ecosystem services, ocean risk mitigation, food security, ecotourism benefits, moderation of climate change, and improving resilience to impacts of other global stressors. Underwriting the MPA Expansion Project is a social media advocacy and awareness campaign called “Only This Much” that aims to mobilise a regional movement for increased protection across all African national waters and Africa’s Southern Ocean territories.
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