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16 Apr 2011 Meeting, Kalk Bay, South Africa

New YEP Shark Ambassadors after Cape Town meeting!


written by Henko Roukema

Inspired young South African YEP, Henko Roukema, has combined his love of the ocean and sports to initiate various Theme Projects within the Pangaea Shark Project.


When he heard that Swiss YEP, Matthew, was visiting Cape Town, he quickly organized a YEP EXPLORE & LEARN meeting to expose this world traveller & his family to some of South Africa’s diversity.  Most of the other Cape Town YEPs could unfortunately not attend , but an enthusiastic Lolla, Matthew & aspiring YEP-to-be, Robin, arranged to meet Henko at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay near Cape Town, South Africa. The aim of this meeting was for the YEPs to LEARN more about sharks , their behavior, the impact humans have on their existence and to ultimately ACT by raising public awareness about sharks so that people will respect sharks in their natural environment.


Here is Henko’s feedback:  “Before sunrise on Saturday, April 16th, we all started travelling towards Kalk Bay (a fishing village in False Bay – the habitat of some of the world’s biggest concentrations of Great White Sharks!). Our day started early , but there was a good reason for it – low tide was at 8h00 and we had to be ready to EXPLORE!

Our SOS educational guide, Paul Miller, explored  the intertidal rock pool area in the Kalk Bay Marine Reserve with us as we learned about this amazing eco-system filled with bio-diversity. It was incredible to use our senses to see, smell, touch (with care!), feel the sea spray on our faces and listen to the roar of the waves breaking on the rocks while we LEARNED from an expert as he explained what all the different species are and their vital role in the ecosystem!  As he said – we cannot look at one species on its own – we have to understand the ocean’s complete ecosystem before focusing on one very vulnerable species – Sharks.


We saw barnacles, limpets, brittle stars, periwinkles, molluscs, tiny crabs & worms, sea anemones, mussels, jellyfish, sea stars, pre-historic creatures, harders and also evidence of coral growth in a very small area. The kelp forest has returned after abalone poaching was prohibited and we could experience the Circle of Life with sea gulls and oystercatchers having a feast!


The hours flew passed and too soon the tide came in and to our disappointment we were forced to leave the intertidal area. Little did we know that we were in for a miraculous experience! We found a “mermaid’s purse” (shark egg) and saw it hatch! It was incredible to see the baby shark come to life in the water! This exciting real life introduction to the life of sharks made us eager to learn more about this incredible species.


After hearing some alarming facts about sharks, we all decided that the world definitely needs to get a new perspective on sharks!


2010: Only 5 human deaths were caused by sharks 

BUT humans slaughtered an estimate of 100 million sharks !

2017: up to 20 species of sharks could become extinct 


What are the biggest dangers that sharks face? 

  • Finning for shark-fin soup
  • Fisheries and by-catch
  • Shark nets (in an effort to protect humans, sharks get killed when trapped in these nets)
  • Jewelry (Shark teeth) and souvenirs (Shark jaws)
  • Cosmetics (shark liver oil is a popular ingredient)
  • Arthritis pills


We spent a fantastic inter-active fieldtrip studying ocean life. It is also great to know that the financial contribution we made as a group will be used to give disadvantaged kids from the townships the opportunity to also explore & learn about our ocean life! Now that we have EXPLORED and LEARNED more about sharks & the dangers they face, we need to ACT! We MUST change the public’s attitude towards sharks!


YEPs can ALL support the Pangaea Shark Project by 

  • Encouraging  consumers to make informed choices – When we stop buying shark meat and fins, they'll stop fishing for it!
  • Actively motivate and inspire people who sell shark products to STOP
  • DON’T buy any shark jewelry, cosmetics, shark leather products
  • Tell fishermen to release sharks they catch by accident


A final word of advice from Henko : “I can strongly advise all YEPs to give life to Mike Horn's Pangaea message –  I certainly enjoyed sharing my passion for the ocean with Matthew, Lolla & Robin. I am also very happy that by initiating this meeting, the YEPs now count three more Ambassadors for the Pangaea Shark Project!

Lastly a BIG thanks to Paul Miller from the Save Our Seas Shark Centre for spending a Saturday with us & sharing all  his knowledge!



YEPs are welcome to read more details about this field trip and what the YEPs learned about inter-tidal zones and sharks by following Henko, Matthew & Lolla’s Blogs !


Henko's projects in support of the Pangaea Shark Project

  • upcoming exciting Swim4Sharks project 
  • Shark awareness project by helping to distribute Shark safety tips to beachgoers & ocean swimmers
  • next official YEP Cape Town meeting on July 15, 2011


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