Hi, my name is Merrisa Naidoo and I greet you with the warmth of Durban because its summer back home all 365 days. My initial welcome to Knysna was a rather cold one mainly because I arrived in winter last year, however this was balanced by the warmth of the Knysna community. I have been apart of the small family at the Knysna Basin Project since May 2018 conducting my Masters research in Marine Science.
Whilst, being a Durbanite at heart, I am currently enrolled with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in collaboration with the Knysna Basin Project. My love for nature and the ocean was inherited from my grandad. I have a strong passion for wanting to be apart of the youth that contributes to the protection of South Africa’s marine resources. Given the fact that the Knysna estuary happens to be one of the most important estuaries in South Africa in terms of biodiversity, I was drawn to conducting my research within this prized asset.
My role is to assess the levels of microplastic pollution (i.e. plastic particles less than 5 mm in size) within the Knysna Estuary and its occurrence in juvenile fish and syngnathids (such as pipefish which are relatives of the Knysna seahorse). Thus far I have collected and searched for microplastic particles through sediment and water samples from 8 sites along the estuary. Currently, I am assessing and counting microplastic particles that juvenile fish may have ingested in their natural environment.
Plastic pollution, particularly microplastic pollution has received a lot of attention in the last few decades and estuaries happen to be a significant source of microplastic particles to the ocean because of high human influence. Currently, South Africa is ranked 11th among the top 20 countries in the world for its highly mismanaged plastic waste. The impacts of plastic pollution out at sea is devasting, from animals becoming entangled in fishing gear to fish and other animals munching on plastic due to mistaking it for their food. Assessing the threat of microplastic pollution in the Knysna estuary is important considering the fact that this is home to a variety of animals including the Knysna seahorse which happens to be one of two of the world’s endangered seahorse species.
However, I urge you as the community of such a unique and beautiful marine space to:
- Reduce your demand on plastic products
- Find alternatives to plastic products
- Improve solid waste management
- Enforce bans on certain plastic items, especially #Single use Plastic
- Adopt simple behavioural changes
- Choose to #Reuse
Post written by Merrisa Naidoo