Posts Tagged ‘Two Oceans Aquarium’


May 29, 2012

Inspiration and Aspiration

How Small a Trout “Every Day in May” Challenge.

Inspiration / Aspiration

in·spi·ra·tion n.

a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.

b. The condition of being so stimulated.

2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.

3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.

4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.

5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.

6. The act of drawing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs.

It interests me how it is so easy to neglect the obvious; when you get right down to it, in the list above , number six should really be number one. All very well feeling charged up and energised, ready to venture forth and conquer the world but without that essential little flex of the intercostal muscles and a dip of your diaphragm everything else is going to become pretty academic. Tricky to be effective whist in hypoxic coma no matter the level of motivation and I suppose that is where at least some of my personal inspiration comes from. The lexophilic idiosyncrasies of the English Language, to misquote someone past : “The English have a word for everything” and don’t they just, actually in general more than a few words for everything.

My personal current favourite and inspiration in respect of the written word is undoubtedly Bill Bryson, that man can make paint sound interesting and his erudite combination of prose and research serves as a beacon to me. Inspiration to try harder and aspiration to write more effectively plus the drive to perhaps do just a little more research before I put pen to paper or in this case fingers to keyboard. Although I should warn, if you, consume “Bill Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome words” you will instantly become so preoccupied and so terrified of dropping the proverbial grammarian clanger that you will find it hard to publish anything in public again.

But in writing this I equally have to state that nature inspires me, that automatic inhalation of life giving air isn’t an accident. It requires a dreadfully complicated web of cooperation between nerves and muscles not to mention some pretty nifty engineering in terms of your flexible rib cage. And even once you have filled your lungs there is still more. The delicately interwoven strands of your haemoglobin actually have to flex apart to take grasp of the oxygen ready for transport it and more amazingly still, be ready to give up the prize at a moment’s notice once it reaches your extremities. As an aside it is pretty critical that your heart keeps pumping the stuff around your body too, and that there are no holes from whence it leaks out , that a constant repair team of preprogramed elements work studiously to insure the integrity of the system. Every little fibre of our very being is complex and yet works furiously in the background keeping us alive, walking, talking, thinking and if we are lucky casting a fly rod on a gorgeous trout stream.

Consideration of what it takes to make us the way that we are, an engine of burning chemicals, impossibly convoluted networks of proteins, carbohydrates and sugars all there just so that you can be you. Not only are you the custodian of this amazing machine but it will run on virtually any fuel and has mastered the really rather impressive evolutionary trick of being able to make you a new piece of you out of anything from beer to bread and butter pudding.  Well that is inspiring, certainly inspiring enough to want to make the most of it. I don’t know that going fishing or writing a blog is necessarily the best use of such a wondrous machine as this, but I do like to think that it is better served with those aspirations than slumping in front of the box to watch yet another ever more inconsequential episode of World Wrestling Federation’s Smack Down.




1. strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations.

2. a goal or objective desired: The presidency is the traditional aspiration of young American boys.

3. act of aspirating; breath.

So with the above in mind and recognising this astoundingly wondrous body with which we have all been endowed what of one’s goals and ambition? It brings to mind the old saw “ It is nice to be important but more important to be nice”. So sure I have some goals, but perhaps the most important is to achieve them without damage, to tread lightly on our planet and achieve whatever can be achieved without stepping on someone else or sullying a resource on which we all depend. It strikes me that all too often short term goals supersede longer term ones. Hurting people, damaging the environment, taking more than can be sustainably removed is seen by many as  “collateral damage”, an affirmative necessity to “getting ahead”, that is about as short term as deciding you are not going to take that next breath because it is interfering with your current goals.

I recently had the pleasure of reading an autobiographical manuscript, as yet not fully, from Pat Garratt, the CEO and custodian of our local, and I should mention dreadfully well organised, aquarium. Pat has lead what you might refer to as a charmed life, one of tremendous diversity, success, and passion. He himself will tell you that it has to date been simply incredible, although you will have to ask him, he is remarkably reserved for someone who has achieved so much. More to the point, I think that he has achieved all of that without hurting anything. That is inspirational.

So one aspiration amongst many is to provide other people with some inspiration. It greatly worries me that we are on a course of self-destruction, all short term goals without a thought for the future. People like Pat demonstrate that one can be inspired and have aspirations without destroying the very things we all depend upon for our sustenance. And anyway, I particularly like Pat because he looks after fish and I am rather besotted with fish.

The Ultimate in Catch and Release

February 25, 2010

Two Oceans Aquarium release Mandy and Noodle

The Ultimate in Catch and Release.

You may well think that it is at times pretty tricky to safely let go a 12” trout, fins catch in net mesh, fingers get speared by barbless hooks and you take great care to ensure that your quarry is returned unharmed, well rested and in full possession of their faculties. So have a think about this.

On Wednesday the Two Oceans Aquarium,, transported and released two Ragged Tooth Sharks in Gordon’s Bay. Mandy and Noodle had served their time helping educate the public with respect to the beauty and importance of sharks in our environment.

These two gorgeous girls had been captured in the wild:

Mandy outside of East London in Feb 2009 and Noodle in Struisbaai in April 2008, both were now going home. Released to join their compatriots on what appears to be an annual migration North towards Durban.

I was privileged to be able to participate in their release and quite some operation it was. Moving two aquatic animals weighing in the region of 170Kgs each isn’t for the feint hearted or the disorganized for that matter.

The fish were sedated in their holding tanks to both reduce stress to themselves and provide some measure of safety for the team working with them. They were then hoisted out of the holding tank, weighed, tagged, measured and lowered an entire story to the waiting tank truck for the journey along the N2 to Gordon’s Bay.

At the harbour their level of sedation was checked and first Noodle and then Mandy were lifted by crane onto the support boat into a shallow tank for the final leg of their trip to deep water off Rooi Els.

Divers in the water helped support the sharks for the first few moments until such time as the clean water flushed the last remnants of sedative from their systems and they were able to make their way into the ocean depths.. what a special moment..

Dawn in Cape Town, Ragged Tooth Sharks "Raggies", Mandy and Noodle will be transported from the Two Oceans Aquarium in the shadow of Table Mountain and released back into the ocean.

V & A Waterfront Cape Town

Dawn at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town South Africa. The Two Oceans aquarium has been temporary home to Ragged Tooth Sharks Mandy and Noodle for the past year or so, it is now time for them to go home. Back into the ocean and what will probably be a leisurely trip along the coast, heading north for the winter.

Noodle is helped into the sling to start her journey.

Two Oceans Aquarium

First step, the sedated sharks are removed from their temporary holding tank in preparation for weighing, measuring and tagging.

Both the “Girls” had put on some weight from the fine seafood dining at the waterfront.

The sharks were removed from the tank in a specially designed harness.

Two Oceans Aquarium

The sharks are lifted out of the holding tank in a special sling, measured weighed and tagged before being lowered to the ground floor of the aquarium into the waiting tank truck for transportation to Gordons Bay Harbour.

A very large mobile goldfish pond, with some pretty special goldfish.

Two Oceans Aquarium:

The sedated sharks are lowered into the tank truck and ready for the road trip part of their journey.

At the harbour the process is repeated and the sharks are lowered by crane into a small tank in the waiting boat.

Gordons’ Bay Harbour:

The sharks are lifted by crane truck and lowered into a small tank on the waiting Two Oceans Aquarium boat.

They are but a short boat trip from freedom.

A slightly undignified return to the ocean but freedom is only moments away.

Off shore Gordon’s Bay

After a short boat ride the sharks are lifted manually from the small holding tank and released into the sea. A team of divers is on hand to swim with the sharks to insure that they have worn off the effects of the sedative and are able to balance their buoyancy properly before the fish swim off into the depths.

Goodbye Mandy, a breath of fresh sea water to flush out the sedative and Mandy is on her way.

Off shore Gordon’s Bay.

One last affectionate pat from the divers and Mandy is ready to leave.


Mandy and Noodle were part of an ongoing programme to educate the public about sharks, to allow them to get a new perspective on these magnificent apex predators and to recognise their perfection and beauty. Most people are wholly unaware of the importance or sharks to our environment or for that matter to the wholesale slaughter of these wonderful creatures at the hand of mankind..


Humans Kill Millions of Sharks Every Year.

Humans kill a hundred million sharks a year, many simply having their fins chopped off for the shark fin soup industry, only to be thrown, still alive, back into the water to an agonizing and unnecessary end.

To give those numbers some perspective think about this:

South African will host the FIFA World Cup this year. If we chopped off the arms and legs of all the spectators at all the games during the tournament we still wouldn’t come close to the numbers of sharks similarly damaged. The average stadium will house 70 000 spectators, violently removing the limbs of the spectators we would need to keep going for a thousand games of soccer with full house capacity to reach the target of a hundred million or so. When you think of it in those terms the mans callous disregard for the oceans in general and sharks in particular become all the more horrifying.

Think of these as arms and legs, maybe you will get the picture.

Why should this appear on a fishing blog? Because I like to think that many, although sadly not all, fishermen are at least in part conservationists. Hopefully the efforts of the Two Oceans Aquarium Crew will serve as inspiration to us all to take care of our fish stocks and our aquatic environments, both fresh and saltwater.

Catch and release.

There are detractors to catch and release, there are even countries where it is banned but I would be willing to bet that in many of those countries you can still buy a tin of shark fin soup. We can only look after the planet one person at a time, one animal at a time, one decision at a time,  so take some solace in knowing that there are people out there doing good for this planet and you as an angler can contribute to that process without having to give up on your sport.

Fish Catch and Release, use barbless hooks, carry a soft mesh net when you are fishing to minimize damage to the fish. Take care to revive them properly before letting them go and avoid fishing for cold water species such as trout if the water temperature gets too high. Sport fishing isn’t incompatible with looking after our planet but it does require some commitment and maybe a change of outlook for some.

The World Wildlife Fund estimate that one hundred million sharks are killed annually.
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