This Saturday, Aliwal Shoal Scuba is proud to be joining surfers, bodyboarders, members of the NSRI and countless other divers for the fifth annual Paddle Out for Sharks. The event, which was first held at the Shoal in 2011, started as a grassroots protest against the shark nets deployed all along South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coastline. Since then, the campaign has grown immeasurably, to include sister events all over South Africa and even as far afield as Australia.

Raise Shark Awareness Worldwide

Fittingly, the purpose of the protest has grown as well – instead of focusing solely on the shark nets, the Paddle Out for Sharks now hopes to raise awareness of issues faced by sharks all over the world. These threats include overfishing, finning, and most pertinently, the decimation of local shark populations by illegal fishing trawlers. This year’s Paddle Out for Sharks will act as a celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8th, and will run in conjunction with another protest entitled Silence of the Sharks.

Shark Populations Declined by 90%

Initiated last December by a group of divers in Israel, the Silence of the Sharks campaign seeks to thrust the disappearance of sharks from our oceans into the public eye. In the last 100 years, it is estimated that global shark populations have declined by more than 90%, while a third of all known shark species are considered threatened by overfishing. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year, 70 million of which are destined for Asia’s lucrative trade in shark fin soup.

To raise awareness of the sharks’ plight, Silence of the Sharks organisers are asking divers from all over the world to hold underwater protests in their name. This Saturday, we will join the Paddle Out on the Scottburgh backline, where we will lay flowers on the sea’s surface as a mark of respect for all of the sharks being killed around the world. Afterwards, all those involved will be invited to enter the water with underwater banners showing their support for Silence of the Sharks.

TV crews and other media outlets will be present to record the event, which will be the largest underwater demonstration in the country’s history. After the initial photo-shoot, we will join other Umkomaas and Scottburgh dive charters at Castle dive site, where we will enter the water on scuba to take further photos for Silence of the Sharks. We will be taking both of our own dive boats to the event, and offering places free of charge to those interested in taking part.

Local Support for Worthy Cause

Those that want to support the dual campaign from shore can do so at Scottburgh tidal pool, where local shark scientist Jess Escobar will be giving a presentation about the importance of shark conservation. The Durban Harley Owners Group (HOGs) will be riding their bikes down to Scottburgh in support of the event, and those that attend will be able to lay their own flowers on the surface of the tidal pool whilst watching the boats do the same on backline.

The dive boats will be launching from Umkomaas at 7am, to meet at backline at 8am. Those that want to support from shore should be at the Scottburgh tidal pool by 8am. For more information or to find out whether there are any spaces remaining on our boats, get in touch via Facebook or send an email to umkomaaslodge@gmail.com

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