Guest speaker at the Fish Hoek Valley Residents and Ratepayers Association AGM on the 28 February was dynamic young  marine biologist Dr Eleanor Yeld- Hutchings who spoke about her experiences on the SABC 3 TV programme Shoreline and also about her passion for False Bay. (These glorious photos of False Bay  by Claudio Velasques Rojas Homebrew Films were submitted by Eleanor.)

 

Kalk Bay fishing harbour by Claudio Velasques Rojas Homebrew FilmsIntroducing Eleanor to the audience, FHVRRA chairlady Janet Holwill remarked that Eleanor’s grandparents were the mayor and mayoress of Fish Hoek  in their time…”It is so nice to see the family still here!”

 

Eleanor was the marine biologist in the cast of four filming two seasons of Shoreline over 2008-2009 and 2011-2012. The other members of the crew were an historian, a geologist and an actor. Speaking highly of her colleagues, Eleanor said, “We all had the professional backgrounds to take current research and interpret it. As a biologist it was fascinating to be part of hands-on research. We had a variety of amazing experiences and visited areas False Bay yellowtail by Claudio  Velasques Rojas Homebrew Filmsinaccessible to others. It was also wonderful to meet other researchers and many extraordinary people along the way. As a marine biologist one tends to spend 90% of one’s time behind the computer, crunching data and writing reports – it’s not as glamorous as you might imagine.”

 

 

“South Africa has just under 3 000km of coastline. We have the powerful warm Aghulhas current flowing down the east coast and the nutrient rich cold Benguella current flowing up the west coast with the mixing of the two in the middle. Asked where the line between the two  is, I reply: “can you draw the line between the gin and the tonic?! A third of the endemic plants and creatures of the sea are found in the ‘gin and tonic’ area.”

 

False Bay snoek fishermen by  Claudio Velasques Rojas Homebrew FilmsSome of the experiences the crew had were “scary”. “We did shark diving without a cage. The full face mask is a tricky and often uncomfortable piece of equipment and my mask has seized up when I was 20m down! Bending down to present in front of gannets left my kidney area very exposed to their razor sharp beaks, and high cliffs and stormy boat rides were experiences that brought on an adrenaline rush!”

 

Stories that stood out for Eleanor were the visits to Bird Island and Malgas Island. “They had the most magical atmosphere – derelict houses, amazing topography and of course thousands and thousands of birds … and no electricity. The mangrove swamps in KwaZulu-Natal also stood out for all of us. Mangroves have an other-worldly atmosphere. It feels as if you have stepped back millions of years with mud-skipper fish crawling across the ground. Mangrove wood is excellent timber for building and it was a very special experience for the cast to meet ‘Enoch’ who has realised that eco-tourism is a more sustainable long-term use for the mangrove swamps. He has started an eco-tourism business which inspires the community to preserve the swamps but still gives the people the opportunity to gain a direct income from them.”

 

False Bay proteas by Claudio Velasques Rojas Homebrew FilmsAnother awe-inspiring experience was watching the great leatherback turtles lumbering up the beach to lay eggs, although it was “heartbreaking to know how few of the huge number of eggs will hatch, how few of the young will make it into the sea and how few will survive to maturity. The female turtle needs to lay approximately 1000 eggs just to replace herself. How does one tell people who for hundreds of years have been eating turtle eggs and meat as a major protein source that the turtles need to be conserved, and their traditional way of life take a back seat? Conservation must not be dictated by those in power but must rather come from the bottom up – from the people themselves.”

 

 

Train running between Clovelly and Kalk Bay. Photo by Claudio Velasques Rojas Homebrew FilmsEleanor works for WWF-SA (the World Wide Fund for Nature) and has been setting up a conservation partnership for False Bay with the vision that the bay functions optimally and delivers sustainable benefits for all those who use it now and in the future. As part of this, she has created the My False Bay Facebook page and Twitter account (@MyFalseBay)to raise awareness of this valuable natural asset and to get people to take ownership of and to have pride in the bay. She wants to see False Bay receive the iconic status that Table Mountain has achieved. http://www.wwf.org.za/what_we_do/marine/my_false_bay/

Trek fishermen at Fish Hoek beach. Photo by Peter ChadwickThe photo alongside of the treknetters on Fish Hoek beach, also submitted by Eleanor, was taken by Peter Chadwick.

 

The minutes of the meeting will be published soon under Civic Matters. Do get involved with your ratepayers’ associations! The issues they deal with affect your quality of life and the hardworking committee members need your support.