Marine life flourishing in the St James tidal pool after the City stopped cleaning it with chemicals is now reflected in a colourful mural nearby.
The pool is no longer just a place to swim but a window on the ocean, thanks to the efforts of Lisa Beasley and Aaniyah Omardien of the Beach Co-op and mural artist Claire Homewood, who paints under the name Care One Love.
Ms Beasley and Ms Omardien met at the pool in the winter of 2017. Ms Omardien, a keen surfer, was pregnant and using the pool for less strenuous exercise. Ms Beasley was there as part of physiotherapy routine following an accident.
The women snorkelled and free dived together, enjoying the abundant marine life, but then they found it threatened later that year when the City wanted to clean it with chemicals.
The two women convinced the authorities to ditch the chemicals in favour of high-pressure hoses using only sea water. The City agreed and has employed a contractor to do the cleaning, using a high-pressure hose custom built for the task.
The Beach Co-op, a non-profit company that campaigns against single-use plastic, and the Sea Change Project, a non profit public benefit organisation focused on the sea, were both involved in the process of establishing healthier cleaning alternatives for the pools.
Meanwhile a documentary, Tidal, was made last year telling the story of Lisa Beasley’s accident and how it led her to discover and preserve the life in the tidal pools. There have been several free screenings of the documentary, filmed by Michael Carter, directed by Trygve Heide and produced by Leila Kidson.
More can be found about the movie @tidalfilm on Instagram and Facebook.
Ms Omardien said she and Ms Beasley had met at the pool at a time when the City’s pool cleaning contract had lapsed, so life had been thriving there.
“When Lisa heard that the pools would be cleaned again, we quickly got together evidence of the life in the pools and the need to protect it,” she said.
“Conversations with the City happened. The Beach Co-op supported this work and continues to do so today – spreading awareness about our unique marine life and sharing it with everyone,” she
Meanwhile, Ms Homewood, a Muizenberg based mural artist, said the sea creatures she had painted as murals in past weeks along St James Tidal Pool walk wall were all found in the tidal pool and surrounds.
The mural at the pool had been a good opportunity to teach the children about pollution, she said.
“I told the children as I painted that these creatures lived in the water and that when the plastic bags and their chip packets and straws washed into the water, they could choke the animals or cause them harm.
“And every time they made that connection, they would run off and collect the rubbish and come show me how they had helped. I didn’t ask, they just understood and acted on it,” she said.
Ms Omardien said she had secured funding from a UK cosmetics firm for the mural.
“We worked closely with Claire Homewood to create the artwork to reflect what we were finding in our pools,” she said.
Ms Beasley said the murals were a hit with the public.
“Some of the organisations using the pools for kids education programmes have commented that these are great for education purposes and not just for the aesthetics of them.”
Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the recreation and parks department manages 22 tidal pools from
Silwerstroomstrand tidal pool (on the north western border), to Sparks Bay tidal pool at Kogel Bay (on the eastern boundary of False Bay).
These tidal pools are open all year round and available for the general public to use at no cost.
The St James tidal pool was the inspiration for the change in cleaning protocol, due to its high biodiversity. The high pressure hose was first tested at Dalebrook tidal pool, which was the source of most of the complaints relating to slippery surfaces.
The high pressure hose and new cleaning protocol is now being used at five tidal pools, namely, St James, Dalebrook, Kalk Bay 1 and 2, and Woolley’s tidal pool. He said the intention is to roll out a similar protocol for tidal pools on the Atlantic Seaboard, which are the only other ones still making use of harsh chemicals as part of their cleaning procedure.
Tidal pool cleaning is scheduled to take place once a month, or twice monthly in the peak summer season. The City manages a cleaning contractor to this effect and with the help of the high-pressure hose and positive productive relationships between the general public, the Beach Co-Op and the Sea Change Project.
“We are on the way to achieving our ultimate goal: providing facilities that are safe to use, while still maintaining the integrity of the environment,” he said
He said a four-stroke high pressure hose system that uses only sea water to blast away the algae, was custom built for the cleaning process.
He said a significant improvement from the old cleaning protocol is that these tidal pools are now safe to swim in immediately after a clean, as there are no harmful chemicals and residue lingering in the water.