Last week we observed World Oceans Day, focusing on the dire crisis of plastic pollution in the sea. But for us at the Two Oceans Aquarium, every day is "oceans day", so we decided to follow up and ask some of our colleagues, partners and friends about their relationship with the ocean. 

Pavitray Pillay, Manager: SASSI Programme, WWF-SA

Pavs Pillay

How do you spend time in the ocean? Usually either on the beach (walking) or at the rocky shore exploring the rock pools or wading in Langebaan Lagoon.

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean?  I love being at the water, I feel relaxed but inquisitive and curious about what is happening beneath the water. However, when I see litter or pollution, I get very angry and disappointed at what we are doing to this beautiful environment.

What is your earliest memory of the ocean? I went to Durban as young kid with my family on holiday. It was the first time I had seen the ocean and I spent most of the holiday in the water and on the rocks.  

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I eat only sustainable seafood recommended by SASSI and always clean the area that I visit.  

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen

Tania Haberland, poet, artist and teacher

How do you spend time in the ocean? I spend as much time as possible in the ocean doing all sorts of things. I live in Mauritius so I love to swim to the reefs and play on the edge between open ocean and protected lagoon. My partner and I offer meditative water hikes as well as aquatic bodywork and movement sessions we call Oceanic Somatics. 

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? I feel a combination of peace and exuberance, deep sensual pleasure, relaxation, joy sometimes ecstatic, awe, release and containment, love and gratitude.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I take people into the ocean to feel a real live connection through the fluid system of their bodies and the power of their imaginations. I also write about my love, the ocean. If you love something or feel deeply connected it's harder to hurt it.

Justin Coetzee, swimmer and Two Oceans Aquarium Ambassador

"Extreme swimmer" Justin Coetzee swam with our ragged-tooth sharks in 2016. Photo by Stéphane Gautronneau

How do you spend time in the ocean? I swim in the ocean daily as part of my extreme swimming training, no cap or wetsuit. Speedo and goggles only.

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? The ocean is my happy place. It’s where I do my best thinking.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I use my swimming to raise environmental awareness, to educate and to inspire others to do more for our oceans and beaches.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. ” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

Michael Farquhar, Two Oceans Aquarium CEO

Two Oceans Aquarium CEO Michael Farquhar

How do you spend time in the ocean? Fishing, kite surfing, diving, just walking and enjoying the sheer beauty.

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? Too many – Knysna estuary (where I was married), Cape St Francis (where we often go on holiday as a family), Kenton and Bushman’s where I spent so much time while at Rhodes University and where I fell in love with the South African coast, the Transkei for its wild and rugged beauty, and Cape Vidal in northern KwaZulu-Natal where I have been lucky enough to take part in fish-tagging projects.

What was your earliest memory of the ocean? Camping, sailing and fishing in Zeeland (Holland) as a youngster before I came to South Africa.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I am a responsible tag and release fisherman who cleans up after himself and others who fail to do so.

se7en, mom and blogger

se7en, mom, blogger and trained oceanographer 

How do you spend time in the ocean? Most folk know me as a mom and a blogger called se7en, who joins beach cleanups and spends her time hiking with her kids along the Cape coastline. What folk don't know is that I have had a lifetime passion for all things to do with the ocean. Before I had kids I studied Oceanography and have a doctorate in Global Underwater Ocean Acoustics. When I was working I visited a number of islands in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica - all these adventures just added to my love of the ocean. 

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? I love the feeling of wild freedom that the ocean brings. The magic of the ocean is that it doesn't matter whether you are standing on the shore or far out at sea; you can still sense the wonder and the force of the ocean.

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? My absolute favourite spot for rock pooling is Venus Pools at Cape Point, where you have the most incredible natural swimming pool right next to the ocean and it is full of the most wonderful shore life.

Emeritus Professor George Branch, author of Two Oceans: A Marine Guide to Southern Shores and Living Shores

First rays of sunrise on the waves, with ghost crabs gracing the shore … One of Prof George Branch's happy memories of a recent holiday to Tshwane, in the Transkei

How do you spend time in the ocean? I spend time doing research, grappling with unanswered questions about how ecosystems function, and it's a passion to communicate that to others.

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? A deeply visceral upliftment.

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? One of my favourite places is Dalebrook beach, because the shore is both wondrously diverse in its life and very accessible because of its gently sloping shore.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? Carefully planning of coastal activities is needed to ensure that adequate sections of the sea are set aside as marine protected areas, in a manner that is compatible with other human needs and activities. 

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),/ It's always our self we find in the sea.” – e.e. cummings

Maryke Musson, Two Oceans Aquarium Curator

Two Oceans Aquarium Curator Maryke Musson

How do you spend time in the ocean? If not diving in our I&J Ocean Exhibit I try to get some surf time in - I love surfing but I'm such a kook, so I suppose I love hanging out in the ocean with my surfboard.

What is your earliest memory of the ocean? We spent a lot of time in the Eastern Cape and Transkei when I was little. I remember sitting on my nanny's back and playing with her beautiful Transkei beads around her neck, looking at the sea and marveling at the cows on the beach.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? Recycling for sure. Reducing the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean is critical for the well being of all ocean animals. And I love Stream Straws – I always carry some with me.

Thabo Sabeko, Two Oceans Aquarium Outreach Coordinator

Two Oceans Aquarium Outreach Coordinator Thabo Sabeko takes some school kids from Khayelitsha on a tour of Table Bay

What was your earliest memory of the ocean? The time I arrived in Cape Town for the first time in the early ’90s. My late father took us to the beach during the summer holidays. It was my dream to go and swim in the ocean unlike my grandparents and a few in the family who had died, never having a chance to swim in the ocean, let alone to see it. When we arrived at the beach we went to swim. I saw this massive big blue water that had waves – it was the first time I had ever seen water moving up and down. I ran away crying my lungs out because I thought the waves were coming for me, but that was because of all the negative stories about the ocean that I had heard when I was a child.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well-being of our ocean? I teach about the benefits of being part of the food chain in ecosystems at large because if we’re not looking after them, we as humans are nothing. 

Dr Samantha Petersen, thinker, dreamer, doer, Possibilities Unlimited

Dr Samantha Petersen

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? Just being close to the ocean fills my soul. It’s truly my source of inspiration. 

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? Right now, my favourite spot is Shelley Point. We have a small holiday cottage in this village and have built very happy memories of early morning walks, teaching my boys (ages five and seven to surf, catching (and releasing) fish in the rock pools, exquisite sunsets… All the ingredients of special times together.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I believe we should make our time on the planet count… Use our voices to lobby for a more equitable and sustainable world and match this with an earth-friendly lifestyle.

Jennifer Radloff, feminist information activist and Buddhist surfer

The ocean leaves Jennifer Radloff feeling strong, independent and wildly connected to nature

How do you spend time in the ocean? I spend time in the ocean surfing and swimming - daily, in all weathers.

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? I feel blessed, free, connected, exhilarated, alive.

What is your earliest memory of the ocean? Earliest memory is of Durban, aged about 9 and swimming out to the backline in huge waves and feeling strong, independent and wildly connected to nature.

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

Dagny Warmerdam, producer, photographer, surfer

Dagny Warmerdam's favourite running spot: anywhere next to the ocean

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? It makes me feel extremely present. Within the very moment. It also brings me great peace. 

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? Favourite surf spot: Muizenberg. Favourite dive site: Windmill. Favourite running spot: next to the ocean.

What was your earliest memory of the ocean? Perhaps leaping from my granddad’s shoulders into the sea. Or paddling off Camps Bay with him in the unsinkable canoe he made for my brother and me. 

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? I share my love of the ocean and the animals that live in it with others. I do this in the hope that they too can understand the consequences of our actions and work towards preserving the existence of our oceans. 

Linda and Mike Markovina, Moving Sushi

Linda and Mike Markovina with friends, free diving off St Lazarus Banks in Mozambique

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? Spending time in the ocean draws out a lot of mixed emotions for us. Working in illegal fisheries and with the more complicated issues facing our oceans can often leave you a bit on the depressed side. But funnily  enough, all it takes to find motivation is to jump right back into the blue. 

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? We have been lucky to dive some incredible spots all around the globe as well as see some incredible shorelines and of course we surf wherever we go. Our favorites range from Indonesia’s incredible surfing to Norway's icy fjords and of course our dear South African coastline, with so much abundance and so many world-class diving experiences. Senegal has iconic waves and an ocean culture that needs to be seen to be believed, while Gabon and the wilds of the equatorial jungles that fall right into the Atlantic holds some of our most memorable ocean experiences.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? There are so many things we need to be doing in order to ensure the future well being of the ocean, but the simple and easiest that you can do, right now, is reduce the amount of plastic you use. 

Bamanye Mpetsheni, Two Oceans Aquarium Aquarist 2

Two Oceans Aquarium Aquarist 2 Bamanye Mpetsheni

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? It depends on where I am. When I am at Mouille Point and I see all the litter it makes me very worried. I wonder whether the message is getting through to people, or do they just ignore it?

What was your earliest memory of the ocean? As a kid we used to go to Muizenberg. I didn't want to go near the water. I always wanted to know how big the ocean is. The waves seemed gigantic. I had so many unanswered questions about the ocean. It is still a mystery. Now that I work here at the Aquarium I have a better understanding, but I still have questions.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well-being of our ocean? Teaching people in my community about what we have been taught here at the Aquarium. I’ve stopped using straws and plastic bags because of the seals and turtles. 

Kate Muller, animal communicator, author and artist

Columbus crab at Surfer’s Corner, Muizenberg. "After writing the Seashore book I've started seeing so many more exciting things regularly," says Kate Muller 

How do you spend time in the ocean? Watching and floating – I love to lose myself in the feeling of the ocean, its reflections, colours and moods.

Which is your favourite place in/on or next to the ocean? A little spot tucked up in the dunes overlooking the fish traps at the Stilbaai marine protected area. I can spend hours here just looking at the sea, snorkelling and swimming in the gentle waves where an otter comes to play if you’re very, very lucky.

Dawn Jorgensen, The Incidental Tourist

Dawn Jorgensen snorkelling off Madagascar

How do you spend time in the ocean? My ocean time is divided between long walks with my dogs on the beach in Bloubergstrand, and the many places that I get to experience as a travel writer, which creates opportunities for me to swim, snorkel and scuba dive in the waters of Italy, Thailand, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya and beyond. My favourite is snorkelling and free-diving, as I feel closer to the waters without the “barrier” of tanks.

What emotion do you feel while spending time in the ocean? When near, in or on the ocean I feel a sense of belonging. A reminder of what matters and a great desire to do all that I can to help protect it and all the life that it holds.

What one action do you take to ensure the future well being of our ocean? Much of my life is spent as a self-proclaimed ocean activist and I do my best to spread the word about the plight of ocean and how we can each work to make a difference. Over and above that I don’t eat meat or fish, pick up litter, don’t use straws, try to avoid plastic bags and bottled water, and use eco-friendly cleaning and beauty products. I support initiatives such as SANCCOB and turtle rescue centres, and through my Airbnb experience introduce others to the invaluable work being done to protect our oceans.

And a few more from our staff and interns

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