We waddled for penguins! On the morning of 13 October 2018, more than 100 members of the public joined the Two Oceans Aquarium for a march around the V&A Waterfront to help create public consciousness of the plight of South Africa's most iconic seabird on International African Penguin Awareness Day.
While most South Africans can recognise the only penguin native to Africa, most people are not aware of the fact that their population is in severe decline - in fact, there are fewer than 10 years left to save African penguins from extinction.
African Penguin Awareness Day is about highlighting this fact, and about reminding South Africans that we can all help save these birds - by stopping our intake of unsustainable seafood, taking steps to reduce the amount of our waste that ends up in the ocean, and by supporting government initiatives to create Marine Protected Areas.
Waddlers gathered under the Aquarium's archway on Saturday morning, meeting the other interesting people that would be joining them on this walk.
Plenty of kids joined the waddle, and there were penguin-themed cupcakes and adorable face-paint opportunities for all before we set off.
After a quick briefing, we headed towards the Clocktower, being sure to get the attention of passing pedestrians, motorists and skippers wherever possible (the more people who are thinking about penguins, the more likely it is that people will take action).
Rethink the bag: Our addiction to disposable plastic items is killing the ocean - penguins get entangled, fish that they depend on are eating microplastics and the oil used to make plastic often spills into the ocean. Pick reusable alternatives to single-use plasic to help the African penguin.
The waddle headed through the Silo District, and as we exited onto Dock Road, we had an even greater opportunity to draw attention to our favourite black-and-white friends.
Get involved: Volunteer at and support local conservation and community cleanup inititatives. SANCCOB and APSS are incredible organisations, working to conserve South Africa's coastal seabirds, that can always use support. Penguins' survival is linked to the overall health of our ocean, so don't be shy to support small beach cleanups and organisations too - every little bit counts.
As we reached the turn-around point of the waddle at Battery Park, it was interesting to be able to reflect on the diverse people that joined us for African Penguin Awareness Day - no matter what walk of life you come from, there is always a small action you can take to ensure the survival of an iconic part of our country's natural heritage.
We'd like to thank the more than 100 enthusiastic attendees who showed their support to the African penguin, the 370 motorists (and boaters) who "gave a hoot for penguins" and, of course, to African penguins themselves for being such terrific ocean ambassadors!