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Ocean Connections

Highlighting people’s cultural connections to the ocean and coast through photography and storytelling

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Photograph of Sangoma Siyasanga Ntabeni. The coastline of Algoa Bay is a place where Nguni traditional healers, Sangomas, come to connect and communicate with the ancestors.

Indigenous and local knowledge is important for how we use and care for our oceans and coasts. Too often, these knowledge systems and knowledge holders are excluded from how the ocean is used and managed, and in the context of Algoa Bay the reasoning has sometimes been that it is challenging to integrate this knowledge into ocean management. It is however not impossible, and this project explores ways of using photography and storytelling to convey peoples’ personal relationship with the ocean. This exhibition is the result of this work.


The project forms part of a PhD project led by Mia Strand and a postdoctoral project led by Dr Nina Rivers, which both fall under the Algoa Bay Project, seeking to develop an integrated marine spatial plan for the Bay that will inform the national Marine Spatial Planning process. A key focus of these combined projects is an emphasis on estuaries as integral socio-ecological systems that connect land and sea along the coastline in the Bay.

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Mia Strand

Throughout the research process, Indigenous and local knowledge holders have been engaged as co-researchers, therefore being integrally involved in developing the research objectives from the start and have trained in photography and storytelling before documenting the pictures and stories that are exhibited. The arts-based research process has so far found strong cultural connections to the ocean, estuaries and coast, particularly highlighting aspects of spiritual significance, learning, cultural heritage and history, fun and wellbeing. The hope is that these cultural connections to the ocean and coast can be better integrated into knowledge based decision-making in Algoa Bay.


Michael Salzwedel

The full team of co-researchers involved in this project have been Alan Waite, Anelisa Anna Mcoli, Attie Adam Plaatjies, Dr Bernadette Snow, Bradley Links, Brendon Billings, Chantel Murevanhema, Charlotte Bouah, Chrissila Billings, Dr David Pittaway, Delene Spandiel, Deon Spandiel, Eileen Speelman, Francis Nkaki, Haseline van Vught, Jenny Rump, Kristen van Staden, Martin Booysen, Mia Strand, Michael Salzwedel, Milani Ndamse, Dr Nina Rivers, Nozipiwo Hambaze, Paramount Chief Human, Dr Rachel Baasch, Siyasanga Ntabeni, Tarryn Swartbooi, Toetie Dow, Unathi Klaas, Xolisa Sotyelelwa and Yaseen Albany.

This project has been funded by the SANOCEAN Project (287015), NINA and NRF/SAIAB, as well as the SARChI in Marine Spatial Planning through DSI / NRF (CoP grant 110612). Other funding has been given in part by the One Ocean Hub  (NE/S008950/1). The project has ethics clearance with the Nelson Mandela University Research Ethics Committee (Human) (H21-BES-DEV-007) and is registered with the South African National NHREC (REC-042508-025).

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Mia Strand

Watch Project Video

Virtual exhibit

Interested in participating?

Dark Ocean

Do you have or want to have a relationship with the ocean and coast in Algoa Bay? Then please complete this brief survey on your relationship with the ocean and coast in Algoa Bay, exploring culturally significant areas in the Bay stretching from Sardinia Bay in the West and Cannon Rocks in the East. The survey contributes to the Algoa Bay Project that aims to inform the marine spatial planning process in and around the Bay.

Click here to start the survey:

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