AT THE BEACH | Save the Wild Coast, stop Shell from blasting

Find yourself a friend with a nice aquarium and then go tap on the glass repeatedly. See if the fish are OK with that? Bang on the glass as hard as you can without cracking or breaking it.

Notice if the fish panic, jump or scatter. Do it at Two Oceans and see how long it takes before you are thrown out. At your friend's home you might earn yourself a punch in the nose.

Why? Because fish do not like noise. They hate it. Even at a minor level, tapping on aquarium glass causes upset, first to the fish and then to the owner.

Pumping 260 decibels every 10 seconds up and down the Wild Coast starting this December is the Christmas present from hell. Saturday just past ocean lovers gathered up and down our EC coastline in protest.

Young, old, boys, girls, fishermen, swimmers, surfers, runners and outdoor affectionados who just love the wild. The Transkei wild coast is a jewel in the crown of the EC. Kei and East London builder, designer, draughtsman and architect of 40 years Peter Maker has just recently bought a dirt tour bike and begun tripping through the region.

“You have no idea what is out there (in the Kei) until you get on a bike and ride it,” he says.

The news that Shell plans to conduct a large-scale offshore seismic survey for gas and oil deposits along the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast has drawn criticism from environmental groups and animal rights activists, with one group even threatening to chain naked 'Wild Women' to the ship in protest. Daron Mann speaks to attorney Kim van Kets from Wild Women on the Run's, and Jason Simpson, a chief engineer for controversial international conservation group Sea Shepard.

I am surprised to hear from a chap who has grown up in the Kei that he is still finding new treasure even after all these years.

Peter has a family cottage at Lwandile and clearly loves this coastline. This is why he picked up his paintbrush to create a giant placard for his daughter Demi.

Pictured is Crush, the cool turtle from Finding Nemo, tears in his eyes and blood dripping down from the comment “Please don’t, we beg you! Only our shells belong — not yours!”

Clarendon matriculant Demi took a break in her exam studies to paint her own protest poster. Completely fitting, she is studying marine biology at UCT next year.

Her poster is Bruce the great white shark from Finding Nemo full of gnashing sharp teeth and promising “Trespassers will be prosecuted”.

One hopes the Cape of Storms has an equally angry greeting for the Amazon Warrior as well. How conniving that the horrid survey ship should try to sneak in under a green name. It could more likely be called Ocean Armageddon.

Perish all ye who swim near here (or should that be hear?). I was surprised to find while reading my JLB Smith that Black Steenbras, Cymatoceps Nastus, Poenskop or in isiXhosa, Saqomolo are endemic to our SA east coast.

Found nowhere else in the world.

“Nowhere abundant,” says my JLB Smith and one might think that this should have had a major impact on the wild coast Environmental Impact Assessment. The place where I have found the most Black Steenbras is on our wild coast.

Along with them, Copper Steenbras are deep water dwellers and giant air cannon percussions are going to cause havoc with them, their hearing and their air bladders. The entire chain of sea life from plankton to whales will be under assault.

Demi Maker has influence. She sweet-talked three Selborne lads to carry dad’s giant turtle poster for her. Riley Devan, Luke Hempel and James Calver. Mind you, the young men needed little convincing. All of them are friends through Travis Sparg at Coffee Bay and the wild coast runs in their veins.

They are quick to stand up and fight for the area they love.

The fantastic Kei coast is a place of wonder, splendour, spectacle, the greatest shoal on earth, and as near to unspoilt Eden as we have anywhere on this planet.I was impressed by Leeza Brent's poster “Our planet has two lungs. One is green. The other is blue”.

We have all known since primary school that plants engage photosynthesis and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen but only in more recent years has the massive importance of our oceans been understood for carbon dioxide consumption and seaweed and kelp forests understood for oxygen manufacture.

Besides temperature regulation and weather generation.

Who would knowingly shoot themselves in the lung? Shell Oil might. Surely there must be a better way? Blasting the Kei coast to smithereens is to knock the teeth out of the smile of the beauty queen because there might be a gold filling somewhere. When we are finished she is no longer beautiful.

How about eco tourism not eco terrorism? Come on Shell, lead the way to renewables. Give Elon Musk a call. I hear he has some great ideas.


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