How you (you!) can make a difference for the environment

Here are some suggestions for things you can do at (or near) home that can have a positive impact on the environment.

Mounds of garbage
Mounds of garbage


The first suggestion is the most important!

Be a busybody

Keep tabs on what’s going on in your area. Are there new building projects or developments planned? Community newspapers are an excellent source of information. Attend meetings that give opportunities for public participation, register as an interested and affected party, make objections, write letters to the environmental consultants and your local council representatives. Also, tell your friends and buddies about opportunities to participate as concerned citizens.

Remember that a development doesn’t necessarily need to be in or on the ocean to affect the marine environment. For example, False Bay is where a large amount of the city’s effluent is pumped out. More people means more pressure on the ecosystem. Demand responsible solutions from municipalities and developers.

Keep tabs on proposed amendments to existing laws, and new laws and bylaws. Who is getting permission to do what? Are these decisions well thought out? Is it wise to allow whelk and octopus fisheries to operate in a bay that is visited by large numbers of whales and dolphins?

Hold the government (specifically DAFF and the Department of Environmental Affairs) to account. The environment belongs to all of us, and if it’s being mismanaged, it’s your heritage that’s being squandered.

An excellent example of the concrete results this kind of action by ordinary citizens can have is the recent flip-flop done by the authorities on the proposed diving ban in the Betty’s Bay MPA after many local divers, marshalled by Indigo Scuba and Underwater Africa, registered as interested and affected parties and submitted objections to the proposal.

Banning diving in the area would have essentially left it wide open for poaching. While the local law enforcement can’t and doesn’t do anything to stop illegal harvesting of perlemoen, eyes in the water in the form of recreational divers can at least keep tabs on what’s happening in the reserve.

You can follow the sequence of events by reading these four posts, in order: (1) proposed diving ban, (2) almost immediate initial results after responses from the diving community, (3) a revised proposal, and finally (4) a cautiously promising start to the consultation process (which is by no means finished).

Evangelise, but not like a crazy person

Wear your heart on your sleeve. Let your friends know that conservation issues and protecting the environment are important to you. Don’t be scary and wild-eyed, just be yourself. (If you’re naturally scary and wild-eyed, I can’t help you.)

When you get an opportunity to discuss an environmental issue with someone who doesn’t know or care as much as you do, stick to the facts. Point them to other sources where they can find information to back up what you’re saying, if they are interested. That way, if they want to relay your argument to someone else, they can do so. Raw outrage isn’t necessarily transmissible (and if you’re too hot under the collar, they may just think you’re a lunatic).

Don’t use jargon. Don’t use cliches (people are smarter than you think). Don’t assume that everyone knows as much as you do about your pet issue – check that you’re pitching your pitch appropriately. Don’t be boring. Show people how beautiful and wonderful and intricate the environment is.

Reef life at Roman Rock
Reef life at Roman Rock

Get your hands dirty

Participate in beach cleanups and underwater cleanups. If you see garbage on a dive (and nothing has taken it for a home), stuff it into your BCD for disposal on land. Get into the habit of picking up stuff that doesn’t belong. Keep an empty bag on the boat for collecting rubbish as you drive in and out of the harbour. Hout Bay is an excellent spot for this. Most harbours are actually filthy.

Consume less of everything

Reduce your carbon footprint. This encompasses all the obvious things: recycle, buy local, seasonal produce, eat less meat, and participate in more recreational activities that are carbon neutral. (Unfortunately diving isn’t technically one of those; even if you do a shore dive, you still need to get your cylinder filled using a compressor that consumes energy.)

Here’s a good carbon footprint calculator that’ll help you identify the areas of your lifestyle that are having the greatest negative impact on the environment. Mine is my commute to work, which produces a horrific amount of carbon dioxide each month. (If I ever needed a justification for running away to sea with Tony and the cats, this is it.)

If you eat seafood, make wise choices that are kind to the ocean. If you fish for fun, follow the regulations defining what and how much you’re allowed to catch.

Donate responsibly

If you have financial resources and want to make a donation to a conservation organisation, first do your research.

  • What will the money be spent on?
  • What is the track record of the organisation? What projects have they worked on already?
  • Do you agree with their aims, objectives and methods? (Would you be proud to have your name associated with their work?)
  • Will the money be spent on branding and advertising (some people mistake this for real action), or on observable projects that will have a direct impact on an environmental issue that’s important to you?

Remember that addressing an environmental problem may very well involve work with people. Sustainable Seas Trust (not an endorsement, just an example) addresses poverty and food security as a way to relieve pressure on the ocean’s scarce resources, thus caring for people and the sea at the same time. It’s great to take kids snorkeling, but after a while (and a lot of kids) I hope funders can demand a bit more originality and effort in that area.

Personally, I prefer to support organisations that follow scientific advice or include a research component in their activities, because I feel that conservation that isn’t based on scientific data is just marketing… But you may feel otherwise.

If your donation is a significant one, ask for feedback on how it was spent.

Don’t fool yourself

Finally, remember that writing tweets and sharing pictures on facebook doesn’t achieve anything concrete (ok here’s an exception), even though your rate of hashtagging may make you feel like your efforts are putting Greenpeace to shame. Sorry kids. Even Shonda Rhimes says so.

Want to target your tweeting for good? I suggest subscribing to Upwell’s Tide Report.

How do you make a difference for the environment? Would love to hear your suggestions.

Newsletter: Hout Bay to Mozambique

Hi divers

What we have been up to

For those of you that did not make it to the ocean last weekend I can truly say you missed out big time!! The OMSAC clean-up dive on Saturday morning was really enjoyable with some amazing articles being removed from Hout Bay harbour. True to form OMSAC ran an excellent event with everything happening on schedule. After the clean-up we dived the Aster wreck. We dived on Nitrox to maximise our bottom time and penetrated the forward hold. Goot and Gerard were doing their Nitrox specialty dives, Goot had a taste of wreck penetration, and Cecil was also test diving his new twin tank setup so we had a ‘’busy’’ dive.

Tiny basket stars on the Aster
Tiny basket stars on the Aster
The mast of the Aster at night
The mast of the Aster at night

Back on dry land we waited out the sunset and then went back out to the Aster for a night dive. The conditions were great, visibility 10 -12 metres and cold water (11 degrees) on the bottom. Night dives to the deeper wrecks are more challenging than shore night dives so a big well done to the guys and girls that joined.

Goot, Tami, Tony, Clare, Gerard and Cecil, ready for a night dive on the Aster
Goot, Tami, Tony, Clare, Gerard and Cecil, ready for a night dive on the Aster


On Tuesday evening we attended a talk and slide show at Dive Action. Barry had done some diving in a fjord in Norway and recounted the trip with a lot of info and photos of the dive centre there and the wrecks. He also talked us through the logistics of diving far from home with a few hundred kilograms of dive gear. As you know I have absolutely no knowledge of rebreathers so if you want to know more about diving with a re-breather then Barry is the man to see.

The Fernedale and the Parat side by side
The Fernedale and the Parat side by side

As you can see in this photo (courtesy of Gulen Dive Centre, kindly shared with us by Sarah from the Dive Action team), the visibility in the fjords is something else. It was taken at around 30 metres and the wreck on the right sits on the sand at over 55 metres.

This evening we attended a talk at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre by George Branch… He is one of the authors of the Two Oceans book and is an almost legendary figure in South African marine biology. The talks at SOSSC are always very good and are always ocean related so you should make an effort to attend a few… You are never too old to learn something new!!! Visit their facebook page and like them and this way you will be informed of their activities. Their page is constantly updated with some stunning photos and lots of info on sharks.

Hyperbaric chamber

Clare and I were taken on a tour of the hyperbaric medical facility in the Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont today. It is the only chamber of its kind in Cape Town and is used for many forms of medical treatments not related to diving, but should you have a  problem on a dive and get DCS, this is the place you will go! This centre is also home to one of the most respected diving doctors in South Africa. As a diver you should have DAN Medical Insurance and you should know where the nearest chamber is, how to get there and who to call. All of this information should be in your log book. Their website is here. We will post a detailed report of this visit on the blog soon. This is a fully equipped medical facility and a lot different to the chamber we did our 50 metre chamber dive in!

What we are going to get up to


Saturday is pool day and if you want to join and play with your gear and buoyancy text me before 2pm Friday. The cost to scuba dive in the pool (if you’re not on course) is R50, and if you just want to swim it’s R7. We are still busy with Deep and Nitrox Specialties which we will continue with early Sunday morning, launching out of Hout Bay at 7.30am. The boat takes 14 and we are already confirmed for 10 people so text me quickly if you are in.

After the boat dive we will move to False Bay and then do dive 3 & 4 for a few Open Water students. If the conditions are good we will try the Clan Stuart or A Frame. The visibility in the bay at the moment is 10 – 15 metres and despite some southeaster for the next two day I doubt it will do too much harm so diving will be good.

Scubapro Day – 1 October

Scubapro are having a ScubaPro Day in the Simon’s Town yacht basin on 1 October. They will allow you to test dive the latest gear from their range. There will be food, drinks and goodie bags plus lots of divers and other kinds of people. Boat dives are going to cost R100 and R25 gets you a goodie bag and registration at the event. I have booked 12 places on two dives on the boat, big brother to this boat.

Ruby Runner's little cousin, spotted in Germany
Ruby Runner’s little cousin, spotted in Germany

If you want to participate you need to book and you need to do this soon. Boat dives at R100 don’t come round too often so book this week or lose out. You will need to book and pay by Tuesday next week for this event. The dives are at 8.00am and 2.00pm.


There is a trip to Mozambique on the weekend 4-6 of November. It is a five dive/three night package that starts at R1850. You will need to mail me for more info as it is a trip shared with a dive centre in Durban and will need some quick decisions.


  1. A diver is currently in jail in Cape Town for diving without a permit… Don’t let it be you… Get a permit if you don’t have one.
  2. Book for the boat for Sunday and October 1 (ScubaPro Day) NOW!

Bye for now,

Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099

Diving is addictive!

Newsletter: Whale chasing surfers…

Hi divers

Seal at the safety stop in Smitswinkel Bay
Seal at the safety stop in Smitswinkel Bay

Now that we are well on our way to spring, summer and the silly season it is time for many of you to dust off your logbooks, lose the slippers and put on your flippers… erm, fins. Diving conditions are great all year round in the Cape and despite the bad weather days we have sometimes, there are many, awesome days that beg to be dived. Going to work is one thing but taking a day’s leave in the week and diving is very, very, therapeutic… I call it Aquatic Therapy. Try it, it works.

The past week’s dives

Tiny basket star on the MFV Orotava
Tiny basket star on the MFV Orotava

Last weekend an 8 metre swell on Saturday kept most of us dry that day. We dived the MFV Orotava wreck in Smitswinkel Bay on Sunday.  The surface conditions were decent but it was very surgy at depth. The visibility was good and we were doing Deep and Nitrox Specialties so this was the perfect dive for this. Diving was also good in the week and on Wednesday we had 27 degrees in the parking lot, not a breath of wind (conditions very suitable for tanning) and 8 metre visibility in the water.

Two friendly frilled nudibranchs on the Orotava
Two friendly frilled nudibranchs on the Orotava

Weekend diving

This weekend will grace us with good diving on Saturday and less so on Sunday. We are doing a deep dive early on Saturday, to the Fleur, a wreck in the middle of False Bay that lies at around 40 metres on the sand. Grant will do another two launches, to the SAS Pietermaritzburg and to Roman Rock so if you are keen to go boating, which you should be, then shout.

I will spend the afternoon at Long Beach with Open Water students. Sunday is less easy to plan. The diving conditions will be good but it may be very cloudy and for some this relates to cold. I will decide Saturday afternoon but will dive at A Frame or Windmill Beach. There is a 3 metre swell which may just make A Frame difficult. Windmill Beach is often difficult on weekends due to the limited parking but on a cloudy day we may be lucky. It is a shore entry with a walk to the beach that is a little longer than the walk at Long Beach, but involves less rock scrambling. Shout if you are coming.

Speckled klipfish on the MFV Orotava
Speckled klipfish on the MFV Orotava


I have recently replaced some of my older gear and added a few extra items. If you rent gear from me on a regular basis please mail me for an updated price list.

Coastal Cleanup Day

Next Saturday morning we are joining OMSAC for International Coastal Cleanup Day, with a cleanup dive taking place in Hout Bay harbour. If you’d like to come along, sign up here and check out event details here. It costs R25, and payment must be made directly to OMSAC. If you need to rent gear for the dive, I can assist. I think it’s going to be quite festive.

This time last year

There are lots of whales in the bay at the moment. I watched a few surfers have a panic attack today and paddle faster than they thought possible when a whale surfaced less than 100 metres from them.

A whale greets three alarmed surfers in Muizenberg
A whale greets three alarmed surfers in Muizenberg

Last year this time we had whales on the surface at the end of a dive in Smitswinkel Bay and that photo soon became the most viewed photo on our blog. Another ‘’last year’’ item, last year I made it possible for any of the courses I offer to be purchased on a split payment arrangement. This worked well for me and many of the students that dived last season. I am going to do the same again on a more permanent and easier payment system. If you want to do a course but don’t have the money, mail me and we can work out a payment schedule.

We have again sponsored some dive training for the Reach for a Dream Foundation. Last year they auctioned and sold raffle tickets for the courses we sponsored and collected a fair amount of money for this charity. So visit their website and help someone reach for a dream. It’s a very good cause.


Tony Lindeque
076 817 1099

Diving is addictive!

Ocean conservation and research

Coral reefs

Coral reefs are among the world’s most threatened habitats, being directly and devastatingly impacted by global warming, overfishing and pollution. Here are some organisations working to protect and conserve them:

Coral reef in Sodwana
Coral reef in Sodwana



  • Oceana is focused on ocean conservation in general
  • The Southwest Fisheries Science Center does research on marine resources in the Pacific and Southern Ocean, from a biological, economic and oceanographic perspective

Who to follow


So I am sick in bed today while Tony enjoys the sea and southeaster with students. In the absence of my diving fix, I have to rely on the Internet to feed my currently short attention span. Enter Twitter.

To me, Twitter incorporates my favourite feature of Facebook – constant stream of bite-sized news and views – and leaves out all the other guff (Farmville, Zombie Vampire Slayers, Are You Feeling Hot Today?).

It’s not all about socialising and keeping up with your online friends… It’s also useful for news, activism, and informative updates from individuals and organisations whose work interests you. If you want to beef up the list of users you’re following, check out our “followees”!


Learn to Dive Today: @learn2divetoday (of course!)


South Africa

SANCCOB – the organisation that rescues, cleans and protects our coastal birds: @SANCCOB

Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town: @2oceansaquarium

Shark Spotters for reports of shark activity in False Bay: @SharkSpotters

World Wildlife Foundation South Africa: @WWFSouthAfrica

Conservation & Agencies

NOAA’s National Ocean Service: @usoceangov

NOAA’s Ocean Explorer educational program: @oceanexplorer

Project Aware – conservation agency by divers: @projectaware

Save Our Seas: @saveourseas

World Wildlife Foundation: @WWF

Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society: @whales_org

NASA (they do ocean exploration too!): @NASA

Ocean Information Center (OCEANIC) at the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment: @oceandata

The Smithsonian Institute: @smithsonian

Smithsonian Ocean Portal: @oceanportal

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (because everyone can do with a bit of radical extremism to spice things up now and then!): @seashepherd

Ocean Conservancy: @OurOcean

Ocean Institute: @oceaninstitute

Oceana: @oceana


Bonica Snapper video cameras (the manufacturers of Tony’s newish toy): @bonicahddv

Fiona Ayerst, underwater photographer who offers courses: @Fayerst

Orms (more awesome camera equipment, knowledgeable sales staff and a top-notch D&P facility): @OrmsdDirect

SA Camera (very reasonably priced photographic equipment, including underwater housings): @SAcamera

Scott Kelby, author of fantastic photography books: @scottkelby

Writing & Television

National Geographic: @NatGeoSociety

Urban Times Oceans: @UT_Oceans

The Guardian Environment section: @guardianeco

PBS NOVA will keep you up to date with science news and cool gadgets: @novapbs