Updates and Opportunities

Hi everyone,

With the lengthening days, as always, there’s a shortage of time – things are getting busy in the upcoming summer months!  I just want to take this opportunity to plug a few things that are happening and if you’re interested, please come along and offer a helping hand!

First things first, on this upcoming Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 9:00am, the White Shark Conservation Trust’s Mystery Ride, a charity motorbike ride being held on the North Shore.  For more details, visit the link posted.  Yours truly will be there as well, so come stop by and say hello, offer some support or make a donation!   If you have a bike and would like to join in on the ride, it costs $20 to register.  Please contact Bruce Goorney at the link posted above.  All proceeds will be going to the White Shark Conservation Trust, in support of conserving and protecting the white shark, educating the public about the white shark, and of course spreading the love among like-minded people.

Secondly, I’d like to plug Sustainable Coastlines, a non-profit organisation whose founders I had the opportunity to meet recently.  Sustainable Coastlines works to support communities in keeping their coastal environments clean, develop sustainable environmental practices and support coastal cleanup efforts to positively impact the environment, raise awareness and of course leave the coasts a little cleaner than they were when we found them.  Sustainable Coastlines is participating in the Love Your Coast event, which is a series of coastal cleanups that are happening across New Zealand.  On Monday, 6 December 2010, a cleanup is scheduled for Rangitoto Island.  Other cleanups are scheduled throughout the rest of that week in Wellington, Christchurch, and Te Tai o Poutini (West Coast).  Visit the posted links for more details.  I highly recommend checking out Sustainable Coastlines, as they are a pretty large, well organised outfit and they offer a lot of opportunities for getting involved, especially anyone who is concerned for environmental welfare.

November is looking to be an incredibly busy month, with several more dive courses starting and therefore a lot more work to do, but I hope to post again soon with some rather exciting news – watch this space.



International Cleanup Day Results – Job Well Done!

Recycled 2009 Banner - we practise what we preach!

Once again, Project AWARE‘s International Cleanup Day was a smashing success! This past Saturday, 25 September 2010 we tackled Mission Bay Beach’s shores for our beach and underwater cleanup.  Volunteers, divers and non-divers alike, showed up to help us collect about 12 kilograms of rubbish from the beach and the ocean.  And again, the most numerous bits of trash left behind were cigarette butts and drink bottle caps/lids.  Food wrappers and containers were the next most prevalent, indicating that in the more populous areas, individuals littering is the biggest issue we need to tackle – as well as getting food shops and food suppliers to use more biodegradable materials when packaging food and/or handing out utensils.

And once again, more than half of the volume we picked up was recyclable material.

Bearing that in mind, my suggestion for trying to curb this behaviour?  Why, yes, as always, education! If we tirelessly continue to educate ourselves, our kids, our friends, loved ones, colleagues, et cetera about the need to dispose of/recycle our trash responsibly, we can help stop thousands (yes, thousands) of tonnes of garbage from polluting our seas.  Last year on International Cleanup Day 2009, 220,000 kgs of debris were removed from the ocean alone (see Project AWARE’s global data here).  This was what was collected in one day.  Also, getting involved in being part of the solution – as our wonderful volunteers from NIWA, Global Dive, the White Shark Conservation Trust and my own dear (unaffiliated) friends did – helps raise awareness among the general public too, and of course reminds us to be responsible with disposing of our own rubbish.

Another bright moment from Saturday, other than the intermittent sun showing its face once in a while, was the chance to meet with Sam, Camden and Simon from Sustainable Coastlines, a charity organisation based in Tirau, Waikato.  Sustainable Coastlines takes a holistic approach to developing solutions for keeping our coasts clean and working with communities and individuals to implement solutions throughout New Zealand.  I am hoping to meet with these guys again soon – I’m looking forward to working with them toward a common goal, and gain some insight into what projects they are planning – and see if I can help.

Some photos from the day are below.   Thanks again to all of you who helped out, I am so grateful for the support shown and I am proud of the efforts you all put forth!  And of course, a big thank you to Global Dive for sponsoring the materials and the barbecue on the day!


Divers getting kitted up for the underwater search

Bruce and Zoe sweep the west end of the beach

Francois and Juliet team up

Harry is all smiles - before he realised he'd be in 3m of water!

Jonas getting ready for the dive

Andreas, Alex and Kate on land duty

Post-Kilimanjaro (I’m so punny)

Mt Kilimanjaro, Northern View

It has been a long time since I’ve made time to post, and the flurry of pre-trip, last minute organisation (i.e. pandemonium), holidays and then the trip itself… well, the days slip by and things fall by the wayside.  Coming back, I found work in a state of organised chaos; both Global Dive – due to peak season – and the office, due to my boss being slightly disorganised.  So those are my pithy excuses, and hopefully I won’t have to make any more for a while.

What does one say after embarking on a round the world trip, seeing and doing things that are eye-opening (at the very least) and life-changing?  As a person who rarely shuts her gob, I have a hard time finding words to describe accurately exactly what the trip did for me, and hopefully, did for others.  This comes as a surprise.  I’m never without something to say.

Oddly enough, I have found myself recoiling from social interactions since returning from this epic journey – so much experience was crammed into four short weeks and I still feel – even after nearly 4 1/2 months of being back – that I haven’t fully processed all of it.  But I’ll do my best to put it into words.

Firstly, I think the most accurate way to describe how I felt – and feel – is to say that Africa changed me, in ways unexpected.  Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro changed me, in ways I needed to change.  Forcing yourself to continue climbing when all you want to do is lie down, vomit, sleep, die, whatever… a true test of tenacity – or stubbornness.  I can say with conviction that climbing Kilimanjaro was one of the hardest things through which I’ve ever willingly put myself.  But it was worth it. Every tear, every blister, every dry retch, every sore and bruised muscle, ligament, joint… all of it, I would do it again.  Now that I’ve forgotten how awful I felt after summiting.

The other hardest thing I’ve ever chosen to do was visit the slums, the health clinic, and the various orphanages around Nairobi.  Working and playing with the children at the orphanages humbled me, and drew stark contrast between my western, consumer-driven lifestyle, and their struggle for existence – this is not a comfortable feeling, being so far removed from my own misperceptions of reality – i.e., life in western culture – and thrust firmly into a place where everyday life really is a struggle.

While those experiences with the children created a space in my heart for those who suffer, I came back and found I had less sympathy for those who ‘struggle’ in western countries – a particular restaurant is shut, or their hot water heater gets shut off temporarily, or they have to walk around the homeless and destitute people begging for money on the streets… These are not struggles to me, these are minor things.  Annoyances which no longer register as such to me, due to being smacked in the face by true troubles, but I must remind myself that not everyone has been as fortunate in seeing things from a different light – and what I may perceive as nothing may indeed be a true struggle for someone else.   So it has been difficult for me to be more understanding with people back at home, and I need to work on that because I shouldn’t judge someone else’s perceptions under the same criteria as my own.

Unaware of the amount of tears I was about to shed on this day…

So I suppose that’s some food for thought for the time being.  I’ll be putting up another post about shark stuff very soon, because there are some very exciting happenings in that realm as well!