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First-ever Ocean Festival welcomes arrival of the annual Sardine Run on the KZN South Coast

The first-ever Ocean Festival in Scottburgh, KZN South Coast from 8 to 11 June commemorated World Oceans Day and the urgent need for ocean conservation – a message that was beautifully underscored by the arrival of the annual Sardine Run to the region. The sunny winter weather welcomed visitors, surfers, and surfskiers who joined in a celebration of the ocean and its inhabitants.  

“What an absolute treat to have one of the world’s most impressive ocean spectacles arrive on the KZN South Coast to celebrate the first Ocean Festival, showing us exactly why ocean conservation needs to be a priority,” commented Ocean Festival Founder, Russel Symcox. “I’d like to extend thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make our first Ocean Festival such as success, and hope that we’ve started a wave of conservation efforts that will continue throughout the year.”

Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), said they were delighted to support such a successful, conservation-focused event: “The Ocean Festival further cements the KZN South Coast as a leading MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences, and events] destination, with our quality venues and incredible natural resources attracting world-class events. The high visitor turnout is not only great for the conservation efforts, but for the economic boost to the tourism industry and support for local businesses. We look forward to this becoming an entrenched calendar event that celebrates and supports the beautiful KZN South Coast!”

The Ocean Festival, based at Cutty Sark Premier Resort, got off to a great start with the beach, river, and reef clean-ups that took place on World Oceans Day (8 June). Concerned citizens congregated at Scottburgh Main Beach for the Beach Clean-up in partnership with SAAMBR, ORI, and Sea World, with Scottburgh Caravan Park caravaners and community members also joining to clean the stretch of beach.

With the health of rivers key to ocean health, it was time for the World Oceans Day River Clean-up in partnership with Legends Kayaks at Mahlongwa River, as well as the MPA Aliwal Shoal Reef Clean-up led by Scuba Co. Dozens of bags of litter were collected on the day, with thanks extended to sponsors and participants including WildED , Crocworld Conservation Centre, Sappi Saiccor, Umdoni Christian Academy, Umlazi Primary School, Sharkwise, Wetu Safaris, Apex Environmental, Made For More, Surfski South Africa, and Waffles & Heart.

On Friday, 9 June, Ocean Festival visitors got valuable ocean insight at the Conservation Speaker Session in partnership with SAAMBR, ORI, and Sea World featuring Maryke Musson sharing turtle research and Dr Ryan Daly on the Shark Tagging Project. This festival was also chosen for the first exclusive screening of the highly anticipated documentary, Cutting the Line, at the Ocean Festival Movie Night. Sports’ enthusiasts also got things started with the

Ocean Festival Coastal MTB Social Ride in partnership with Renishaw Hills and Badgers Cycle at Cutty Sark and Renishaw Farms.

Day 3 got off to an early-morning start as surfers took to the water in the two-day Cutty Sark Pro presented by SMTH Shapes sponsored by SMTH Shapes, Premier Resort Cutty Sark, Halfway Toyota, and Instinct. This was the sight for the first in-person relaunch of Shaun Tomson’s iconic surfwear brand, Instinct!

Made for More Surf Contest was also hosted on 10 June with adaptive surfers competing across several heats. The Durban-based NPO aims to include, empower, and equip people with disabilities through sport. Through their adaptive surf programme, many individuals have been instructed in water safety, life skills, and adaptive ways to bodyboard and surf. The day’s winners included

Those not competing in surfing events got the chance to contribute through the Keep Scottburgh Beautiful Beach Walk / Clean in partnership with Keep Scottburgh Beautiful and Halfway Toyota. The day concluded with the heartfelt Ocean Festival Event & Live Music featuring Qadasi & Maqhinga, the South African Music Award-winning duo on a quest to revive the powerful sounds of traditional Maskandi music.

The surfing action continued on Sunday alongside the Leatherback Rum Surfski Challenge whichkicked off from Scottburgh Main Beach with South Africa’s top surfski competitors navigating the incredible Marine Protected Area, Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area, in the hopes of taking home a share of the R50 000 prize money.

Visitors also got the chance to catch local street artist, Giffy Duminy, in action as he painted a mural on the bridge to Premier Resort Cutty Sark in Scottburgh, with sponsorship from Apex Environmental. In celebration of World Oceans Day and the Ocean Festival, Giffy is creating an ocean-themed mural that acknowledges the incredible marine life found at the nearby Marine Protected Area, Aliwal Shoal.

Thanks are extended to all partners involved in the Ocean Festival: South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), SMTH Shapes, Premier Resort Cutty Sark, Halfway Toyota, Instinct, Leatherback Rum, Sir Fruit, SAAMBR, Gladiator Security, Renishaw Hills, Legend Kayaks, Badgers Cycles, Keep Scottburgh Beautiful, Scottburgh Surf Lifesaving, NSRI Rocky Bay, Point Watersport, Renishaw Hills Medical, Scuba Co., Made for More, and Feral Marine.

First-ever Ocean Festival welcomes arrival of the annual Sardine Run on the KZN South Coast
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