Discover the extraordinary beauty of our oceans at night
Elzanne Odendaal was drifting between ideas about her future. Start-stop, in and out, she floated from one job to the next. Nothing stuck. But one constant remained. Odendaal has always loved the sea. Her infatuation with the water nurtured a need to be involved in marine conservation. After much ebb and flow – sometimes close to the ocean, sometimes not – Odendaal found her seaside serenity. And a way to protect it.
Her moment of clarity came during a volunteer excursion with the ‘I am water’ foundation, which exposed her to Tidal Tao. The organisation generates hype around the topic of conservation through night snorkelling tours, which expose people to the wonders of the sea – an environment that is still 95% unexplored. Submerging after dark compounds the mystery flowing on the currents, gifting snorkelers an unforgettable adventure. Inspired by the passionate instructors who guided her expedition, Odendaal immediately contacted the programme’s directors about joining the team. Now that she is on board, her job allows her to share the importance of protecting the sea by educating others.
“Every time you expose someone to a world completely unknown to them, every time you change a perception, no matter how small – these are victories to me,” she says. It’s little things, like choosing glass products over plastic, that will make the long-term difference. Odendaal’s angst remains the lack of knowledge about conservation that cripples global efforts to preserve the ocean and its inhabitants. Through educational snorkelling, she is drawing much needed attention to the world’s largest and least understood ecosystem. While South Africa has much to protect above sea level, the natural treasures of our country extend to the deep as well.