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FREE-DIVING AND THE SEARCH FOR A FREE OCEAN

South African free-diving champion and conservationist, Hanli Prinsloo, visits Saldanha Bay

“Looking down onto the back of a whale shark is like looking into a beautiful night sky,” said South African conservationist champion, Hanli Prinsloo, “They’re the biggest fish in the sea but the only way they could hurt you is if you swam straight into one, even then it would probably shoot you an apologetic look.”

A renowned public speaker and celebrity free-diver, Prinsloo is an honorary member of the Grahamstown based charity, the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and supports their mandate which has similar objectives to her I Am Water Ocean Conservation Trust. “It’s not what happens on the surface that counts, it’s what is underneath that matters. Which is why Hanli helps us with a better perspective of what’s really happening in our seas,” said SST founding trustee and director, Dr Tony Ribbink.

The SST along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) are currently on the SAMSA SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour. For four weeks the team will be touring South Africa’s coast line and spreading the word of coastal conservation to everyone from young school children to the various mayors and dignitaries along the way. For the Western Cape part of the tour, SST and I Am Water have worked together in spreading the word of coastal conservation to as many open minds as possible.

SST was privileged to have Prinsloo as guest speaker at the Saldanha stop of the tour. “I’m often asked where in the word is my favourite place to dive, and it surprises people when I say Cape Town,” explained Prinsloo to the gathered crowd at the Yachtport SA building, “The diversity of the flora on land is reflected in the sea, our kelp forests are phenomenal, the best garden ever, and it’s available to all of us.”

Prinsloo has come far from her 19 year old self who learnt how to free dive wearing an ill-fitting wet suite in a freezing cold fjord in Sweden. Having held the South African free diving record 11 times, she has travelled the world as a film maker, motivational speaker, conservationist and champion for our oceans. “We’re a planet with a little bit of land surrounded by a lot of blue,” said Prinsloo, “and we have power over that, we hold the future of that blue in our hands.”

Residents from surrounding areas like Vredenburg, Langebaan and Sanddrif travelled through to Saldanha to hear Prinsloo’s anecdotes of curious sea creatures, the science of holding your breath and finding your roots back to water.”

“It was very interesting when she was talking about tips on diving with the tiger sharks,” said 13 year old Morgan Tiedt, “It made me think about how they’re not just hungry fish, they’re much smarter and sensible than we think.”

South African’s everywhere are invited to join the SST and SAMSA on the coastal tour, to make their SEA Pledge and set their own personal goals of how they will contribute to securing the healthy future of our oceans.

Residents from as far as Vredenburg, Langebaan and Sanddrif travelled through to Saldanha to listen to 11 times South African free-diving record holder, Hanli Prinsloo speak at for the SST and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour.

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South African free-diving champion and record holder, Hanli Prinsloo, was the Sustainable Seas Trust’s (SST) guest speaker last Friday at the Saldanha Bay event of the SST and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour.

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Nadine van Tonder, Isabel de Jager and David van Tonder sign SEA Pledges at the Saldanha Bay stop of the and South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) SEA Pledge Saldanha to Sodwana Tour. South African free-diving champion and record holder, Hanli Prinsloo, was the guest speaker at the event.

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Did You Know?

“Over 90% of all top marine predators have disappeared from the oceans.”

- Myers et al. 2007
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