Snorkeling event sees several first-timers explorer greater depths of the ocean

‘Rise From the Cape Flats’ is a film about how Shamier Magmoet, a Muslim man living in ‘the most dangerous community in South Africa,’ discovering the ocean just a short distance away from his community and how it changed his life. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

‘Rise From the Cape Flats’ is a film about how Shamier Magmoet, a Muslim man living in ‘the most dangerous community in South Africa,’ discovering the ocean just a short distance away from his community and how it changed his life. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 22, 2024

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Cape Town - In a concerted effort to create greater accessibility, several first-timers joined snorkel enthusiasts for a morning of guided ocean exploration at Windmill Beach in Simon’s Town on Sunday.

The “Rise From The Cape Flats: Open Day Snorkel Event” was initiated by underwater filmmaker and ocean conservationist, freediver and scuba diver Mogamat Shamier Magmoet in partnership with Argonaut Science, Trail Freedivers and Apnea Addicts Freediving.

“I have been diving for seven years now, but when I started, I didn’t see anyone who looked or sounded like me in these ocean spaces. I also saw the need for ocean education and experiences within our communities. So for the past five years, I have been trying to change that,” Magmoet said.

Magmoet is also the co-founder of Sea the Bigger Picture Ocean Initiative and a Nature Environmental Wildlife Filmmaker (NEWF) fellow. Last year, Magmoet was recognised as a 2023 National Geographic Explorer.

The event saw more than 100 people join in, many snorkelling for the first time. On-site professionals assisted them in how to use the equipment and guided participants through the shallow kelp forests of the ocean.

Mogamat Shamier Magmoet and his team of diving instructors took more than a hundred people from all walks of life for snorkeling lessons at Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town. Picture Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

“My open day snorkel event under my brand Rise From the Cape Flats was started with the hopes of affording anyone the access and opportunity to come and learn how to snorkel and to learn more about the ocean, free of charge.

“It’s an event where people can overcome their fears in safety in numbers, but above all, it is a day when children can come and meet dive professionals, filmmakers, conservationists and storytellers so they can learn more about different careers.

“A day where we try to grow and connect our communities,” Magmoet said.

“Rise From The Cape Flats” is a documentary produced and directed by Magmoet that premiered in 2020 and can be viewed on YouTube.

Shamier Magmoet aims to introduce the young to marine life, to fall in love with the underwater world, to protect it, and to learn to rise above difficulties in life. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Argonaut Science CEO Nelson Miranda said the event was all about community-building, creating greater accessibility and feeling safe in the ocean.

“More and more people should be returning to the ocean. We have a history of removals from the ocean so this community has seen a lot of trauma over the years. Even though we are very humble and we only keep people safe and talking about breathing, we work with fear in a very simple way but it touches people very deeply.”

For Kensington resident Jill Levenberg, 46, it was her first time snorkelling.

“I had absolutely no reservations. So I’m always keen to experience more of the ocean and this was just on such a deeper level. Going in there and being on your own and being able to really look at what’s among the kelp and just the rhythm of the ocean, how the seaweed moves and all these different fish.

“There’s this whole kingdom of fish that I just saw, what an incredibly emotional experience. It’s such a gift.”

Lee-Nomtha Sipamla, 13, said prior to her first snorkelling experience yesterday she did not think she would be snorkelling one day.

“At first I thought I’m going to drown here and then I got used to it and felt light and excited. I saw little fishes and I saw thin fish and I saw sea urchins and different kinds of shells and starfish. It was really good, I was really excited. I would definitely do it again.”

Luba-Balo Sipamla, 11, said: “I was nervous, scared if anything should bite me. I was with two people, they were guiding me and it was fun and exciting. I would do it again. I was nervous from the start and then I realised that it was good.”

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