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Dodging cold fronts for World Oceans Day

One certainty in life is that when it comes to organising anything ocean related the weather is sure to throw in a curve ball.

© WWF South Africa/Andrea Weiss
Storm brewing with a darkening sky over Kleinmond harbour.

The plan

We were pushing our luck a bit when we decided to take a group of journalists to Kleinmond to showcase the work WWF is doing with small scale fishers in the Kogelberg area ahead of World Oceans Day on 8 June.

The wild card was that we wanted to get our guests out on a boat to see how baited underwater remote video cameras (BRUVs) are deployed to monitor marine life for the benefit of local communities and conservation.

© WWF South Africa/Andrea Weiss
The Cape seas can be notoriously unpredictable, particularly in winter.

We find the weather window

True to form, as the appointed day approached, a series of cold fronts started to stack up offshore. With the swell rather than rain being the key issue – we had to make a judgement call a day before. After consulting all the charts, we decided there was enough of a weather window to go for it.

As we drove out of the city in the rain, one of the journalists WhatsApped to say: “You must be the most optimistic person I know. The weather is awful.”

Happily the weather gods proved her wrong – and the weather started to lift as we approached Kleinmond. Thanks to YR.no and Windguru, we had banked on a few clear hours ahead of the front which kept the sea calm enough to get our guests into the boat and out onto the bay to get their footage.

We were glad we did.

© WWF South Africa/Andrea Weiss
The ENCA TV crew return from their time on the water in the calm before the storm.

Penguins at the point

The rain held off just a little bit longer as we headed over to the penguin colony at Stony Point, part of the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area managed by CapeNature,  a key partner in the Kogelberg area.

© WWF South Africa/Andrea Weiss
CapeNature senior marine ranger Cuan McGeorge (right) gives a live interview to ENCA on the plight of the endangered African penguin.

Braving the elements

As we drove out of Betty’s Bay, the thunder started to rumble and the rain started to bucket down, threatening to send rocks tumbling off the fire ravaged mountains onto the road.

I couldn’t help wondering whether the two downy penguin chicks I had watched being fed by their father in an exposed nest would make it through the night? Penguin expert Cuan McGeorge had told us that severe weather was a threat to young chicks.

© WWF South Africa/Andrea Weiss
A male penguin feeding his chicks ahead of the storm.

All's well

The next morning, I checked in with Cuan to find out how the chicks were doing.

“They’re fine,” he said, explaining that both parents had returned to the nest and sheltered their offspring through a very stormy night.

Now that’s what I’d call a happy ending.

Andrea Weiss Photo
Andrea Weiss, Media Manager

Andrea Weiss loves showing the world the good work her Panda colleagues are doing.

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