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Mossel Bay
1st March 2024
Community & LivingEditor's PicksNature & Nurture


Janine Pereira

Each year the Mossel Bay area comes alive when the annual Dias Festival is held at the beginning of February, and 2020 was no different! People from all walks of life and neighbouring towns came to enjoy the festivities and, S.M.A.R.T was part of it.

One of the highlights of the festival is the street parade where various organisations enter their floats. In 2018, the S.M.A.R.T group entered a float for the first time and continued with this in 2019 and again in 2020. Each year, the volunteers have worked hard to convey a message regarding the plight of our marine animals and oceans.

The 2020 float depicted a large dolphin, a seal, turtles and smaller dolphins fighting through the mass of plastic and pollution found in our oceans. The volunteers collected various materials that are regularly found on our beaches and then constructed a ‘wave of waste’ with the message: “Save our Oceans / ‘Red ons Oseane’ “

We so frequently read, hear and see how pollution harms our marine animals and birds, making the message vitally important! It is difficult enough for marine creatures to survive because of hunger caused by over-fishing, nets, traps, ropes, etc. and then pollution makes the situation worse.

It is frustrating to see an entangled seal, turtle, dolphin, whale or seabird and even more frustrating because one knows that it is not a natural phenomenon.

Predators catching prey … that’s natural! Animals dying of old age … that’s natural! An animal caught in fishing line, a plastic bag or a rope … definitely NOT natural!

On a yearly basis, people flock to the coastal areas. Why?

To experience, enjoy and take in the splendour of our natural coastal environment. To see the dolphins frolicking in the waves. To watch the seals play around the rocks and the gulls dive into the water. To enjoy walks on the beach and sand between your toes!

What happens when all of this disappears? What happens when we no longer see our marine animals?

It is time for humankind to realise what is happening and that each person can and should play a role in conserving and protecting our natural environments.

How long until waste is decomposed in the water? Let us really think about this one!

Paper towel / toilet roll 1 month Cardboard 2 months
Plastic bags 10 – 20 years Cigarettes 10 years
Nylon fabric / rope 30 – 40 years Drinking cans (aluminium) 200 years
Plastic cutlery 100 – 1000 years Fish hooks 600 years
Glass 4000 to one million years Diapers 450 years
Some plastics NEVER Fishing line (monofilament) 600 years
Plastic beverage bottles 450 years Foamed plastic buoy 80 years
Foamed plastic cups 50 years Rubber-boot sole 50 – 80 years
Tin cans 50 years Leather 50 years
Cigarette butt 1 – 5 years Wool sock 1 – 5 years
Plywood 1 – 3 years Waxed milk cartons 3 months
Apple core 2 months Newspaper 6 weeks
Orange or Banana Peel 2 – 5 weeks    

So, what does S.M.A.R.T do and how does the organisation help?

S.M.A.R.T (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team) (072 227 4715) is a non-profit, non-governmental, stranding network with the express purpose of responding to stranded and beached marine animals – dolphins, seals, sea turtles and whales. From time to time, we do assist in capturing penguins and various other seabirds but hand these over to SAPREC. Stranded animals are those that may be saved, whereas beached animals usually do not survive. If you would like to get involved, please contact the S.M.A.R.T emergency number – 072 227 4715.

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