Our Burning Planet

PHOTO ESSAY

Hell no, Shell: People gather along South Africa’s beaches to fight Wild Coast survey

The Muizenberg, Cape Town demonstrators chanted ‘To Hell With Shell’ and ‘Free the Sea’. The mood was upbeat, but the messages on the hundreds of placards were dead serious: we don’t need to search for more oil in a world heating up through use of fossil fuel. (Photo: Don Pinnock)

People assembled on beaches around South Africa this Sunday, 5 December, to protest against Shell’s plans to conduct a seismic survey off the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast in search of oil or gas deposits from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns. More than 70 demonstrations were planned all along the coastline.

There has been public opposition against Shell’s planned seismic blasting off the Wild Coast that was to start on 1 December. For five months, a vessel commissioned by Shell and operated by Shearwater GeoServices will drag up to 48 air guns firing loud shockwaves through 6,000km² of ocean surface.

These soundwaves penetrate through 3km of water and 40km below the seabed. The ship will work around the clock, firing the air guns every 10 seconds. Environmentalists are concerned that the powerful deep-water blasting could irreparably harm the Wild Coast’s delicate ecosystem.

Many endangered and protected marine species are located within the area. Photojournalists Lucas Ledwaba, Don Pinnock and Deon Ferreira captured protests in Cape Town, Gqeberha and on the Wild Coast. DM

Swathed in blood red, seven anti-Shell demonstrators walked slowly, silently into the sea during a demonstration of about 300 people on Muizenberg beach. (Photo: Don Pinnock)
The Grim Reaper with the Red Extinction Rebels on Muizenberg beach. (Photo: Don Pinnock)
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Flash poet Patricia Schonstein reads poems of the sea to anti-Shell protesters on Muizenberg beach. (Photo: Don Pinnock)
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Hundreds gathered at Muizenberg Corner on 5 December to protest against the seismic survey commissioned by Shell off the Wild Coast. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)
Protesters at Muizenberg Corner in Cape Town on 5 December 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)
A protest against the seismic survey at Muizenberg Corner on 5 December 2021. (Photo by Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)
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Protesters at Hobie Beach, Shark Rock Peir in Gqeberha on 5 December 2021. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)
Protesters in Gqeberha at Hobie Beach, Shark Rock Pier. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)
Protesters make their feelings clear in Gqeberha at Hobie Beach, Shark Rock Pier. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)
Amadumbe crops farmed near Sgidi village on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape sustain families and are a source of income for small-scale farmers. There are concerns that proposed mining and oil and gas exploration in the area could have a negative impact on agriculture. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Amadiba Crisis Committee leader Nonhle Mbuthuma addresses a meeting on a beach along the Wild Coast. Amadiba, which represents communities along the coast near Bizana, is leading protests against plans by petroleum multinational Shell to explore for gas and oil along the coast. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Fisherman Anele Matiwane was not aware of a planned protest against Shell’s plans to explore for oil and gas along the Wild Coast. He has been fishing along the coast all his life and fears that exploration could negatively affect his fishing business. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Police kept an eye on proceedings during a protest march and meeting organised by the Amadiba Crisis Committee on the Wild Coast. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Scores of people, including residents of Amadiba and environmental rights activists, gathered to protest against plans by Shell to conduct seismic exploration along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. The march and meeting proceeded peacefully. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Protesters wrote messages expressing their opposition to efforts to explore for oil and gas along the Wild Coast during a protest march and meeting against Shell’s efforts to investigate the exploitation of the area. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Community members braved the rain to attend the protest organised by the Amadiba Crisis Committee on the Wild Coast. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
A young protester holds a placard bearing the multinational company Shell’s logo during a protest on the Wild Coast. Young and old attended the march which concluded with a meeting near the Mzamba River mouth. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Protesters put up signs and placards to express their opposition to Shell’s plans to explore for oil and gas on the Wild Coast near Amadiba land in the Eastern Cape. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Shell South Africa chairperson Hloniphizwe Mtolo was portrayed in placards voicing opposition to the multinational’s plans to explore along the Wild Coast where rural people rely on small-scale commercial farming and the ocean for sustenance. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
Residents of villages falling under Amadiba say there was no proper consultation with the communities on plans to explore for oil and gas along the Wild Coast. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
A fisherman holds shrimps to be used as bait on the Wild Coast near Bizana in the Eastern Cape. News that Shell plans to explore for gas and oil along the coast has sown uncertainty among fishermen. (Photo: Lucas Ledwaba / Mukurukuru Media)
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  • “Shell: People gather along South Africa’s beaches to fight Wild Coast survey”.

    Would it be rude to ask how everyone got to the beach?

    To those who walked or cycled, my compliments for their consistency!

    • “A 2020 report by IRENA tracked some $634 billion in energy-sector subsidies in 2020, and found that around 70% went to fossil fuels. Only 20% went to renewable power generation.”

      So the system is rigged against those of us who want to abandon fossil fuels. We drove there – but I commute by bicycle most days of the week.

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