We recently heard about an incredible initiative taking place in our city - Cape Tidal Pool Marine Protection Initiative. This group has an incredible mission, which we believe is vital for the preservation of life, safety and educational opportunities on our coast. Well maintained tidal pools are, for many children, their first and often most impactful ocean experience - working together, let's make this a positive, safe environment for their growth.

This sea hare is just going about its business, munching some sea lettuce. How this pool is cleaned will decide if this piece of biodiversity can flourish or not. Image by Faine Loubser

The Aquarium asks you to support this initiative - its actions have the potential to transform Cape Town's 19 tidal pools from dangerous, unattractive areas to man-made extensions of nature that can thrive, as can the links between people and the life on our coasts. If there's one thing we've learned at the Aquarium, it's that hands-on lessons are the most lasting, and these tidal pools have the potential to provide those lessons to every person in the Cape.

The Cape Tidal Pool Marine Protection Initiative:

The article below is adapted from a press release of the Cape Tidal Pool Marine Protection Initiative. 

These pools were originally built to provide safe bathing areas for residents and visitors – some built as far back as 1930! They have since evolved into rich sanctuaries for a range of marine life.

The Dalebrook Tidal Pool, Kalk Bay. Photo by Andrew van Zyl.

In October 2017, the City of Cape Town realised that cleaning methods used in coastal tidal pools needed to be revised, as the chemicals it was using were harmful to the local biodiversity. A group of ocean lovers, together with the Sea-Change Project and The Beach Co-op, have been engaging with the City of Cape Town and residents around cleaning protocols for the tidal pools dotted along the metro’s coast. 

The main goal of the engagements has been to find a cleaning solution that will satisfy the safety and accessibility needs of recreational users while ensuring the marine life in the pools is undisturbed and protected.

A feather worm, on the many beautiful inhabitants of the St James rockpool. Photo by Faine Loubser.

Cape Town’s tidal pools offer not only a space for human engagement, in which people from all sectors of society can commune on an equal footing, but a unique opportunity to interact with the sea and its rich biodiversity in a safe environment. Many school children have benefited from visiting the pools on educational outings. Once they slip on a pair of goggles and a snorkel, they are often amazed at the creatures that live beneath the surface.

Kids getting ready for some underwater exploration at the St James tidal pool. Photo by Shamier Magmoet.

We need to look after these spaces and assist the City of Cape Town in doing so. The residents of Cape Town are extremely fortunate to have access to beautiful pools that are free and open to everyone. We need to become custodians of these spaces to ensure they continue to play a role in our relationships with nature, the ocean and one another.

The Millers Point Tidal Pool. Photo by Kerri Muller.

How you can help:

Part of the solution to the use of harmful chemicals has been to develop a cleaning protocol using a high-pressure hose to assist in the removal of slippery algae that grows on the tops of the tidal pool walls. The Cape Tidal Pool Marine Protection Initiative has decided to be proactive and work with Cape Town's citizens to raise the needed funds to implement this. It’s a win-win situation: Those using the pools will continue to enjoy a safe bathing experience while the creatures and plants that live in them can continue to grow and thrive.

If 560 people donate just R50 (the equivalent of two cappuccinos!), it will be enough to buy the equipment needed to clean the tidal pool walls sustainably - ensuring they will continue to be rich and rewarding places that provide a special and educational interface between humankind and nature.

If you would like to contribute, please visit the BackaBuddy campaign.

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