We mentioned the ‘Estuary Care Guide Book’ in our June 2016 Newsletter. Here is an update from Dr Tony Ribbink as well as information on the forthcoming African Marine Waste Conference, which SST is hosting.
Estuary Care and Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) are developing a guide book to promote the care of our estuaries. You may recall from an earlier newsletter that four Canadian Interns began gathering information and ideas for the book in early 2016. They called upon Estuary Care members as well as other residents of and visitors to Bushmans and Kenton to provide photographs, anecdotes, share discoveries and interesting facts. The interns returned to Canada in mid-2016, but we are fortunate that Prof Nadine Strydom, an estuarine expert from Nelson Mandela University, has kindly assumed responsibility for developing the book with SST and Estuary Care. The book is on track for publication in the summer holidays of 2017. It is not too late for you to share your ideas, photographs and anecdotes for possible inclusion in the book, but do get your contributions to Estuary Care or SST no later than mid-July.
When Trish Milliken, the editor of the Estuary Care Newsletter, asked me to provide an update on the book, I happened to be preparing for the amazing Dr. Sylvia Earle to come to Port Elizabeth on 9th July as the keynote Speaker to open the African Marine Waste Conference, which SST is hosting. Sylvia Earle is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence. She is arguably the most famous and influential marine conservationist on the planet, a Ted Award Winner (among hundreds of other truly prestigious awards she has had conferred on her). As she is a Patron of SST we are very fortunate to enjoy and benefit from an excellent relationship with her. Sylvia Earle and her achievements are stunning, simply Google Sylvia Earle and be amazed.
Sylvia is a prolific writer and lecturer who appears frequently on global TV. Her lectures, written work and television broadcasts have led to numerous telling quotations that have been captured by the conservation community and the media. Many of her statements about the oceans also highlight the need for the Estuary Care Guide Book, so I share several with you.
Sylvia writes primarily about oceans, so sometimes I have changed her quotation to use estuaries instead of oceans, but otherwise the quotes are unchanged. Where the changes are made, the word estuaries is within inverted commas.
The first quotes show precisely why the Estuary Guide Book is required.
The “estuaries” deserve our respect and care, but you have to know something before you can care about it. The argument here is that with knowledge comes caring and the capacity to take constructive steps. This does not in any way detract from the caring about the aesthetics of an estuary, or the pleasure it gives you. The quotation refers to action driven caring. Clearly, to know something we need the Guide Book and opportunities to work together.
Then the same message, but given more strongly is:
Far and away, the greatest threat to “estuaries”, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that. Here again the emphasis is on obtaining the guidance and knowledge from the Estuary Care Book and taking appropriate action.
Sylvia goes on to argue that with knowledge comes understanding and with understanding comes love for the estuaries and with love comes caring. Clearly, in her mind, knowledge and understanding are the basis for caring and action.
One of the great assets of knowledge and understanding is that it places us in a position where: Everybody can make choices that will make peace with the natural world. In essence, informed wise decisions come from knowledge and understanding.
The decisions we make affect our future. Sylvia is convinced that this generation of young people, guided perhaps by the older generation, is the most important in history. What is done or not done now will affect not only the next decade, the next century or 10,000 years, but the entire future of the planet and life, including human life. She writes, in this context, Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.
The future, however, needs to be planned and those plans must be based on sound information and collectively developed as: we are all together in this single living ecosystem called planet earth. As we learn how we fit into the greater scheme of things, and begin to understand how the system works, we can plan ahead, we can use the resources responsibly, to show some respect for this inheritance that goes back 4.6 billion years.
Sylvia writes compellingly about the oceans and how our lives depend absolutely upon them and how, no matter where we are on the planet, every breathe we take, every drop we drink links us inextricably to the oceans. She goes further to indicate that as the oceans occupy more than 70% of the planet they affect our temperature, weather and every aspect of our daily lives. To her, the oceans are the Blue Heart of the Planet. It follows therefore that: If the sea is sick, we’ll feel it. If it dies, we die. Our future and the state of the oceans are one.
Those of us who are closely associated with Bushman’s and Kenton estuaries can draw an analogy with blue heart approach as the heart of our communities, our businesses, our livelihoods, our fun, recreation and enjoyment are the estuaries. If the estuaries deteriorate significantly then the reason why we love the area is eroded as are our businesses, livelihoods and way of life. Sylvia writes, “We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it. Because they do”. Similarly, we who depend so much on the beauty, life and nature of Bushman’s and Kenton estuaries may take a leaf out of this statement and care for our estuaries as though our future lives in the area depends upon them, because they do.