Author: Keith Spencer, Cape Nature
Marine and Coast Specialist |
Specialist Biodiversity: Conservation Operations
On the 23rd of August 2023, Bateleurs Director and pilot, Jay van Deventer, rolled his sleek Lambada Motorglider out the hanger, threw in a couple of energy drinks, buckled me in and streaked down the grass runway of The Flying Club and into the blue above the Wilderness, heading to the De Hoop MPA (Marine Protected Area).
Our mission... Marine Protected Area poaching reconnaissance.
Our focus... De Hoop MPA.
The hot Northerly wind was a concern, so keeping above the coastal gusts and turbulence we travelled the coast. Using a Nikon telephoto lens made observations of anglers, beach users and hundreds of Southern Right whale mother and calf pairs and freshly opened estuary mouths enjoying the flow of good winter rains, quite easy to record.
Using the opportunity, many concerning structures, mainly boardwalks and staircases, leading from coastal houses over Coastal Public Property, were observed and photographed. Some suspicious looking road developments were also seen and documented.
Good communications with MPA ground staff alerted us to possible fishing vessel activity inside the No Take zone of the Stilbaai MPA, so a bit of pitch, roll and yaw (I left that all to Jay) allowed for some low swoops over the vessels in the area. Luckily for our decreasing fish resources, they were all angling outside the No Take zone of the MPA.
By the time we got to De Hoop MPA the wind was much stronger and side on to the small game covered landing strip near the De Hoop Opstal, forcing us to turn around and return. Again, our fish stocks and whales were under no illegal pressures in the MPA.
A huge thank you for a fantastic first flight in the Southern Cape with the Bateleurs, conserving together.