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Saving Seals From Skills Learned in CrossFit

July 12, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Ocean Conservation Namibia (facebook.com/OCNamibia)
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At the core of CrossFit, the sport teaches us how to be better prepared to handle situations in everyday life. And sometimes, those situations include helping others, where in this case, CrossFit is helping save seals in Africa.

Naude and Katja Dreyer, founders of Ocean Conservation Namibia, and organization team member Antoine Amory, spearheaded a seal rescue program back in May of 2020 called, “100 Seals For Time.” The rescue takes place from their local Cape Fur Seal colony on Pelican Point.

The big picture: Pelican Point is home to an active fishing industry which Katja said causes the majority of seal entanglements on the peninsula, along with plastic pollution and other ocean rubbish.

  • Naude and Katja started rescuing seals about 10 years ago when they cut their first seal free from a net.
  • The pair decided that the problem was “not going to go away on its own” and that the “world needed to know about the impact of plastic.” They established Ocean Conservation Namibia to bring the issue into a global light, and since the beginning of 2020, have been rescuing seals full-time. 

How CrossFit prepares them for the rescues: Naude, Katja and Antoine are all active CrossFitters, and say their training is key to keeping them fit for their operations.

  • “You never know what’s coming,” said Katja. “It’s like you’re starting a workout, and you never know how long it is. You don’t know if it’s a short five-minute workout and you can go all in or if it’s an endurance workout and you should pace yourself… You really have to expect the unexpected.”
  • “What we do is dangerous. We do get injured, not too often, but we still have to keep going because we are fighting for something bigger than ourselves.” said Antoine.
  • “Last year, Naude got bitten on the forearm quite badly, and he didn’t let go of the animal. You can really relate to CrossFit: if anything is painful, you still have to go and push through the pain,” he adds. 

By the numbers: After their first “100 Seals for Time” initiative in May 2020, the team saved an additional 100 seals in June. In total, the Ocean Conservation Namibia team rescued 2400 seals in 2020.

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