Fifteen African freedivers gathered in Umkomaas to dive deep for Dugongs on World Oceans Day. Diving on just one breath, together the team managed to dive 469 meters. The elusive Dugong can dive to 39 meters and hold its breath for six minutes, but with less than two hundred individuals left in the Western Indian Ocean they need friends in the water!
The group of freedivers included South African freediving champion, Hanli Prinsloo, who can dive to 65 meters on one breath, sixteen year-old Olivia Taylor who did a new personal best dive to 16 meters and hardened scuba divers who want to do their bit for the ocean. Brought together by the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Trust, each participant estimated the depth they would be able to dive to on one breath and raised funds per meter through family and friends.
World Oceans Day, celebrated annually on 8 June, dawned bright and with calm seas as the group departed Umkomaas beach (on South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal coast) to find depth at sea. Dropping a measured rope down each diver got the opportunity to do a few warm up dives before attempting the depth they wanted to achieve. All the money raised will be donated to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Emergency Dugong Protection Plan in Mozambique.
‘I’ve never measured how deep I can go on one breath’ said first time freediver Pamela le Noury from Umhlanga, ‘but it just felt so natural to be down there and 15 meters felt easy!’ Beth Neale also from Unhlanga did a strong 30 meter dive and Warren Deyes from Durban made 27 meters look easy.
‘It’s so good to know that we’re not alone in the work we are doing for Dugongs in Mozambique,’ said a happy Karen Allen, head of the EWT Emergency Dugong Protection Plan. ‘Oceans don’t follow borders, we all have to do what we can for our blue playground’ said freediver Hanli Prinsloo from I AM WATER.
With breaching humpback whales, whale song underwater and some curious sharks circling the rope, the ocean came out to celebrate the day and the Dugongs were given the support they need!