How the change in cleaning methods happened

Since May 2017, the tidal pools in False Bay - with the co-operation of the city - are being maintained and cleaned in a new way.    


Before this, they were being cleaned using a method that was environmentally unfriendly and was harming overall bio-diversity. 


St James, Dalebrook, Kalk Bay tidal pools 1 and 2, as well as Wooleys, all fall within a Marine Protected area (MPA), and therefore a sustainable approach was needed - one that would still benefit the humans using the pools as well as ensure least harm to the fragile ecosystems that had evolved within them.  


For years, the City of Cape Town had been draining the pools, scraping seaweeds off the walls and then white-washing the sides with a mixture of chalk paint, chlorine and other chemicals. The creatures suffered - in fact, almost everything died.  


In 2016, a group of sea-loving citizens, sensitive to the needs of both humans and animals, were spurred on to try and find a new method.


After a year-long consultation process with the city, spearheaded by Lisa Beasley, and after many trials and much research, an simple, environmentally - and, importantly for Cape Town, water-wise - solution was found: a specialised high-pressure hose.


A successful crowdfunding campaign ensued, and after just a few weeks, we managed to raise the R25,000 needed to buy the new system, which blasts algae off the walls using seawater and doesn’t introduce any harmful chemicals into the pools.


On the 28th of June 2018, we excitedly gathered at Dalebrook Pool to witness the first clean, and the results were impressive. Since then the pump has been used to clean St James, Dalebrook, Kalk Bay and Wooley’s pools, and the outcome has been exactly what we’d hoped for. The tops of the walls are much less slippery and the ecosystems in the pools are flourishing. 


The new method has also proved to be more convenient for the cleaning contractor. Over time, and with ongoing monitoring and feedback, a few adjustments have been made, including the tops of the walls and rocks at Dalebrook, Kalk Bay pools 1 & 2 and Wooleys continuing to be whitewashed, but not the sides. It's a win-win for all.


The city has introduced cleans every 28 days to coincide with the spring low, to ensure new algae growth doesn’t build up, and the new cleaning protocols have been written up in the cleaning contract. 


These protocols include:

  • The pools will be cleaned every 28 days (weather permitting) 

  • No more draining of the pools

  • Algae on the tops of the walls and the stairs is removed using the new high-pressure system and only salt water is used (no freshwater, no chemicals)


This extraordinary display of civic responsibility and generosity could not have been achieved without the many people who supported this project through donations, time, energy, advice, expertise and general encouragement.


We would like to specially thank:


The City of Cape Town, Helen Jordan and Harold Ross.

The contractor, for endless discussions and tirelessly helping us test new methods.

Two Oceans Aquarium for all the advice and for offering up the idea of the high-pressure system and for its sizeable donation towards it.

The main crew of ocean lovers who helped in too many ways to count: Keri Muller, Lisa Beasley, Helen Walne, Clare Louise Thomas, Daniela Danes, Heidi Hawkins, Aani Omardien, Ceini Smit, Maya Pfaff, Faine Loubser, Sharon Martin.

Ian Dickie & Brad Gie for your patience, awesome skills, many tests and huge discount on our new high-pressure system.


Thank you to all the donors who helped up raise the funds for the new system:

Fiona (who deserves special mention for your sizable donation – we wish we knew who you are as we would love to take you for a tidal-pool snorkelling tour), Two Oceans Aquarium, Matt Zylstra of Wildlands Studies, Tammy Nicol of Bellovista Productions, Georgina Jones, Katharina, Ian Thomas, Clare and The Tidal Pool Challenge Crew, Taryn James, Chris Krauss, Andrea Weiss, Lauren van Noort, Heidi, Cassi Goodman, Steve, Tash, Mich, Lindsay de Kock, Steve Venter, Paul Cowan, Thandi, Karen Loubser, Nicky, Sea-Change, Andrea Weiss, Margaret, fishyfairy, Joseph Weeks, Purple House, Shaun, Renier, Ruth Leeney, Cher Poznanovich, Louise Clamp, Milly, Wendy Engel, Kathryn, Shop Zero, Amiene, Clyde, The Goodman Clan, Sebastian Annies


And to all the others who donated anonymously. Now everyone - including the resident octopuses - can enjoy these beautiful pools throughout the year. 

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