Grant Christie shares highlights of his solo walk along the South African coastline

Six Million Steps' Grant Christie (centre) surrounded by uShaka Sea World staff

Last week SAAMBR was privileged to host Grant Christie, who is on a solo expedition to walk the entire length of the South African coastline for a project he calls Six Million Steps.

Aged 28, Grant began his epic solo expedition on 17 October 2013 to raise awareness of the marine environment and the current threats facing the delicate and intricate marine web of life at the Orange River mouth. After seven months on foot, covering 3 000km, Grant crossed into the province of KwaZulu-Natal on 16 May.

His journey is supported by the Wilderness Foundation, and he has been blogging, photographing, tweeting and keeping a diary through his daily Facebook posts. Grant has been reporting the good, the bad and the sad along the way and believes that through his stories people will once again fall in love with their natural coastal heritage and be inspired to protect it. 

We met Grant the day before he headed off on the final leg of his journey, from Durban to Kosi Bay, which he aims to reach in the third week of June 2014. He arrived at 9am in the morning, barefoot and dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, with a rucksack on his back, ready for the 18km walk along the beach from uShaka to Umhlanga. However, his plans were put on hold as he began chatting to the scientists, marine educators, aquarists and animal behaviourists who all had endless questions.

The first round of questions came from the scientists who were keen to hear about the marine pollution he had encountered in some of the remote and inaccessible areas of the Eastern Cape. Information on the marine organisms he photographed, both dead and alive, was eagerly shared. His obvious love of the locals he met along the coastline provided interesting insight into the recreational and subsistence use of ocean resources by various communities.

He then went on to chat to the mammal and bird staff, and met the dolphins and seals before heading down to the Rehabilitation Centre to check on the turtles and Gru, the sub-Antarctic fur seal that is almost ready for release. 

The mammal staff asked endless questions about the seals he had encountered, and some of his stories brought tears to their eyes as he spoke of the number of starving seals he had walked past, in various stages of dying. Clearly the ocean’s fish stocks are seriously depleted.

He acknowledged that he would have to put off resuming his journey for another day and spend the afternoon in the Aquarium with the marine education staff, who learned as much from him as he did from them.

Go well, Grant – SAAMBR salutes you and looks forward to welcoming you back to share further insight and ocean stories when your journey is complete.

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