Sea Urchins, Sunflower Stop and Sunset - Day 391
What a day! Learning, meeting people and amazing views. A day of Sea Urchins, Sunflower Stop and Sunset.
Facebook is a fabulous tool if used wisely. It’s great to keep in touch and meet people, not just remotely, but also in person. A few weeks ago we connected with Joe De Prisco (or “Phil” as he is otherwise known), one of our eldest son’s old school and rugby friends, who is in Cape Town. Here we are going to spend the day with him. It’s funny when you are travelling, you make an effort and connect with people. Think about it, would we have spent the day with Joe back home? I doubt it.
We drove over to his flat and discovered what he is doing over here; a Master’s degree in Oceanography. He shared how he had just returned from a 9-day project studying the effects of culturing South African Sea Snails with Sea Lettuce. The Sea lettuce cleans up the water stream and allows for recirculation. This saves a considerable amount of electricity and also reduces the harmful output to the environment. He seemed thrilled with his findings and that the outcome of this project could produce sustainable aquaculture which can feed the world in the future, turning a nuisance effluent waste into useful material. Fascinating stuff.
He wanted to show us his campus, so we drove over, saw the many straw-coloured blocks where lectures and learnings take place and walked up to Cecil Rhodes Memorial on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak. I think we were all too busy catching up with news to really take in the scenery and the historical significance of this place.
Joe needed to take some equipment back to the UCT Aquarium Centre at Sea Point. This turned out to be the highlight of the day for Tim and me. We arrived and was introduced to Dr Mark Cyrus, a cool dude with the longest blonde dreadlocks I have ever seen. We could have stayed here for ages. Both Joe and Mark are so passionate about their studies. Mark's is of sea urchins, another sustainable aquatic creature that can feed the world and create a much-needed resource for South Africa. It really is terrific having his level of enthusiasm even after studying these creatures for years.
Mark showed us his sea urchins, and how he helps to harvest these. The range of sizes was incredible, from a tiny dot to one the size of a grapefruit, which was much older than the average age in nature. He also showed us their gonads, which are delicacies in Japan and China. Yum!
Mark shared that much of the South African coastline is too choppy to farm these animals, but there are a few perfect bays. The issue is that often, these bays are sought after by the oil and gas industry. The aquafarming only wish to put a few small crates into the water to produce food, yet the local population seem to prefer an oil pipe, which, if it burst would ruin their precious coastline. He was very perturbed by people’s priorities, and we can understand why.
Both Mark and Joe are enthused and can see the potential in aquafarming both the sea urchin and sea snail. As the human populations continue to rise, the need for more food will be required. Over-farming of our lands is causing soil degradation, and many sea-life is being depleted, with fish being caught at a faster rate than they can reproduce. This means only one thing; the demise of the good quality food if we continue to act in this way.
Both men recognise that aquafarming needs to be done correctly. In the wild, if a fish is diseased, it will get eaten by predators, however in aquafarming, this doesn’t happen, so the disease spreads. Some aquafarms are located in the sea or rivers, and this disease can infect the unfarmed fish. There is further study to be done, and we are sure, in these two men’s capable hands and other scientists around the world, solutions will be found.
It was lunchtime, so Joe took us to one of the first places he came to when he arrived in Cape Town. It was a burger bar, and as he has stopped eating red meat, I was surprised to come here. It had a great concept, each person is given a tick sheet, and we build up our own burger. I ticked veggie, half a bun, tomato, lettuce, olive tapenade and avocado. It was delicious.
Next was Sunflower Stop, a nearby hostel where Joe stayed for a few weeks. He wanted to catch up with some old friends and wait for the rush hour traffic to die down before moving onto our next location on the agenda. When we arrived, I think his eyes nearly popped out of his head. There was a rather gorgeous young lady leaning against the bar. Red-eyed, she was celebrating from passing her Sailing crew examination, meaning that she can travel around the world and earn money. We stayed for quite a while, chatting to some of the rather drunk residents. I did down one Jägermeister on the insistence of Richard, who reminded Tim of W.C Fields!
We did suggest that Joe stayed, but, bless him, he wanted to take us to Table View to see the sunset. We arrived at Bloubergstrand (which literally means "blue mountain beach") and got the perfect seat at Doddles, to have the perfect view of Table Mountain, Lions Head and Signal Hill and later the perfect sunset. Wow, how lucky are we? And thank you, Joe, for a delightful day.