Two wire-craft whales have been installed at Fish Hoek Beach to gobble up plastic before it gets into the ocean.
The whales are designed to hold loose plastic wrappers and are intended to motivate beach visitors to pick up plastic litter and dispose of it properly.
The whales mirror the work done by Karoline Hanks of Noordhoeked, with her installation of the wire whale, Kakapo, on Noordhoek Beach.
“A few months ago, I saw their big wire mesh whale called Kakapo, and I thought that it was a really clever way to engage people to help keep the beach clean,” says Dawid Mocke, world surfski paddling champion and member of Paddle for the Planet, sponsors of the whale bins.
“Beach clean-ups should be everyday occasions, not just special day occasions. Keeping plastic out of the sea, especially if you love it like I do, should be on everyone’s priority list.”
By creating something fun and interactive – a whale that needs to be filled with beach plastic – and having signage that teaches people about the scourge of plastics in our oceans, Mr Mocke hopes to increase awareness of the very pressing issue of keeping beaches plastic free.
The reason is simple, but pressing. According to the UN Environment Programme’s Clean Seas campaign, plastic can make up to 90% of all marine litter; it affects not only the environment, but heavily impacts economic activities such as shipping, fishing, aquaculture, tourism and recreation; and will be ingested by almost 99% of all sea birds by 2050.
Marine litter directly threatens over 600 endangered marine species.
The idea is that when you go walking on the beach, you pick up any plastic you see, and then when you pass the whale, you throw it in. When the whale is full, the plastic gets removed.
The bins will be monitored by the City of Cape Town’s Shark Spotter programme.
“I think it’s a marvellous way to get people involved,” says Sarah Waries from the Shark Spotters.
“And it makes sense for us to help with it. We’re on the beach anyway, and conservation is part of our DNA.”
Ward councillor Felicity Purchase said: “Personally, I love the idea and hope to see it be successful in its goal to keep Fish Hoek Beach cleaner.”
“We may not all be an Afroz Shah,” says Mr Mocke, in reference to the Mumbai-based lawyer who started the world’s largest beach clean-up, “but I do hope that these whales will at least enable us to make a small difference to a beach which has given this community so much.”