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Experience life beneath Sodwana’s surface

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Its 50 kilometres of reef is home to a huge abundance and variety of corals and fish species and endangered marine megafauna, such as whale sharks, great white sharks, manta rays and leather back and loggerhead turtles also visit its waters. Even the ‘living fossil’, the Coelacanth was discovered in November 2000 dwelling in the deep. From winter to spring, Humpback whales migrate along the coastline and bottlenose dolphins live in the waters all year round. And then of course there’s all the pelagic fish, like sailfish marlin and kingfish. This is a really special place and people come from all around the world for the opportunity to experience life beneath Sodwana’s surface.

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Despite this plethora of marine diversity, most of the local Sodwana residents haven’t had the opportunity to learn to swim, which leaves them unable to appreciate the wonders and the beauties on their blue doorstep. I AM WATER believes that we need to teach people, especially the children, to have the confidence to explore this underwater world as it is only once they understand and appreciate how precious this resource is that they will want to protect it.

 

On the 31 of March, 21 children from Qongwana Primary School in Sodwana had their first swimming and snorkelling lesson. Qongwana School is in a deep rural area and has very limited access to resources and finances. So I AM WATER teamed up with Wildlife and Ecological Investments (WEI), a local NGO, to start the process of giving as many children as possible the skills and resources that they need to be able to better understand and explore the ocean. The easiest place to start learning to be comfortable in water is in a swimming pool and Ben Jones from Sodwana Bay Lodge Scuba Centre very kindly let us use their scuba pool to teach the children.

With the help of Rowan Watt-Pringle and Sarah Smith and their volunteers from WEI as well as Kira Ivanoff and Grant Brokensha helping me on the I AM WATER team, we managed to teach the children the basics of swimming and introduce them to using a mask and snorkel. It was amazing to see how quickly kids can learn skills when the incentive was to retrieve an Easter Egg on the bottom of the pool!


The day was such a success that WEI and I AM WATER will be teaming up again this month to teach more children from Qongwana Primary School the basics of swimming and snorkelling. Hopefully we will then soon be able to take the children out into their blue backyard where they will have the opportunity to experience what people come from all over the world to see.


Please feel free to contact me if you are keen to get involved with our Outreach Projects in Sodwana. We are always looking for enthusiastic ocean loving people willing to give some of their time to a very worthy cause. Email me at beth@iamwaterfoundation.org

You can learn more about WEI at http://wei.org.za 

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