A new kind of shark board

2008-11-28 00:00

If you say shark board in KZN, you’d be referring to the guys who man the shark nets off the province’s beaches. However, a national art exhibition that aims to bring together two sworn enemies — sharks and surfers — all in the name of conservation has changed that.

Eleven top South African artists — including four KZN ones in Ross Turpin, Trevor Paul, Kim Longhurst and Scott Robertson — will use surfboards as canvases to highlight the predicament of one of Africa’s most endangered predators. They will be accompanied by 40 haunting photographs of sharks by award-winning photographer Tom Peschak from the Save Our Seas Foundation, a non-profit marine conservation group.

Peschak said: “Sharks are the most important animals in our oceans. They sit on top of the food chain and without them, nature’s delicate balance will collapse. For example, sharks control the populations of large predatory fish on coral reefs, ensuring that the numbers of smaller grazing fish remain high enough to prevent coral reefs from being smothered and killed by algae. Sharks also keep predatory rays in check, which in turn allows shellfish populations to thrive.

“My mission as a conservation photographer is to create visuals that make a difference. I … hope that my images will give a voice to sharks and other marine animals and, in turn, contribute in a small way to safeguarding our planet’s marine heritage for future generations”.

The bad news is that the exhibition remains in Cape Town until December 3. The good news is that curator Steve Pike is heading for KZN in 2009.

The surfboard art exhibition culminates in a special charity auction for the NSRI and Shark Spotters. The exhibition is followed by the opening of the Wavescapes Surf Film Festival — again with a KZN bent. In addition to a screening of the Shaun Tomson movie Bustin’ Down the Door, which premiered in Durban in July, it will feature the documentary Zulu Surf Riders, which tells the story of Umzumbe surfing twins Cyril and Mishak Mqade who have defied traditional taboos to make waves as competitive surfers.

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