I love the sea. I have loved it since I was a young girl, so that is quite some years now. I love the smell of it. I love the peace I find being around it, and I love the creatures that live in it’s vast expanse.

I have a soft spot for penguins though. I am a “bird watcher”. This was a passion that I learnt from my mom and dad and spending wonderful hours with them, hanging about in national parks. We weren’t really there to see the big animals, those were the cherry on the top, but the birds is what drew us to being out in nature. I remember spending many happy hours with my parents parked along a lonely expanse of the West Coast of South Africa, with our binoculars identifying the sea birds. Some of my happiest memories.

Getting back to penguins though. I walk a little like a penguin. I have two prosthetic hips and a pelvic structure that has been redesigned in two previous hip operations. I don’t know why I developed an issue with my hips that led me to have two triple osteotomies, I am not really bothered about the cause truth be told, but it has given me a lopsided approach to walking. I should probably really restrict my activities to the water, but I do so love the pilgrimages! In any event, I do feel a kinship with the penguin, since they spend most of their lives waddling about on land too.

This passion led me to read about a non-profit organisation called SANCCOB. This is the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. In a nutshell, their mission is to save seabirds, with a primary focus being on rescuing and rehabilitating sea birds to reverse the decline of seabirds populations. SANCCOB is internationally recognised as being a leader in oiled wildlife response.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the “Great Penguin Rescue” which was led by SANCCOB, after the MV Treasure sank off the coast of Cape Town, endangering an entire population of the African Penguin. It was an epic endevour by 45 000 volunteers to clean, feed and relocate the penguins affected by the 400 tons of oil spilled along the cape coast.

This month especially, I pay tribute to this marvelous institution and I have adopted a penguin, as a small way to support their ongoing efforts to save and rehabilitate sea birds. The sea and its inhabitants are key to our planet’s climate regulation and the ongoing support of the ecosystem, so we need to start seeing the sea not as our dumping ground or play area, but as a vital function to life on earth.