Common Ground: Hanli Prinsloo

Friday, 21 February, 2014
 by Mel Winter

Manta with Story/ Maldives: Photographer Jean-Marie Ghislain

You grew up on a farm, how did the ocean find you?

Growing up on a horse farm outside Pretoria might sound like an unlikely start for a waterbaby like me, but it was in fact the perfect place to grow up and learn an understanding of nature, the role of the human in wilderness and of course we had rivers and dams, so water was nearby! :) Many of our family holidays were spent by the coast and whether it was warm Ballito waters or cold Cape Town, I would stay in until my fingers were prunes. As soon as I could choose, I chose to live near the sea and immerse myself in it... with freediving becoming my passion at 19 I never looked back!

You call Kalk Bay home, favourite spot to get your fix?

I love my little Kalk Bay home! A stone's throw from the beautiful wild and kelpy waters of False Bay and just a wander up the road the great mountains behind my house. Our coastline is so full of hidden gems that any flat calm no surf day a mask and snorkel is enough to explore the wonderland that is a kelp forest!

Tell us about the I am Water Trust and what the latest projects are please?

I AM WATER is the Ocean Conservation Trust I started with like-minded ocean lovers in 2010. Our belief is that we protect what we love and we will do all we can to help people fall in love with the ocean. The beating heart of our organisation is taking underprivileged youth and children into the ocean. For a country with so much coastline, it's saddening to see how few South Africans have access to the sea. Through our work globally we have also seen that this is not exclusively a South African challenge, it's the same in many places. From Bermuda, to inner city Los Angeles to Indo. 2014 is going to be an exciting year growing our capacity for new regions and expanding the love!

What was it like being part of the TedX talks in Bermuda?

I love telling my story in front of people! Whether it's a TEDx conference, a corporate group or a school the stories of over coming fear, finding what makes you want to get up in the morning and recognising beauty all around us never fails to resonate!

Watch the full talk from the CT TedX here:

Where is the strangest place you've ever done a dive?

I've dived in some pretty amazing places but the deep fjord in Sweden where I learnt to dive and did some of my first deep dives remains a magical place of mystery. Rock walls falling down to 100m below the surface, pitch black water and burning jelly fish makes for quite a mental challenge if you're going deep!

And personal favourite piece of ocean (tough question I know!)?

Ah... I can't pick favourite places... Each place has an ocean friend I get to meet, and they are so unique! The Maldives with dancing manta rays was an incredible experience, but then again sperm whales clicking at me and diving to over 1000m deep in Sri Lanka made me feel smaller than anything else in my life. If it's salty, its a favourite! :)

Hanli and Black-tip Sharks/ Aliwal Shoal: Photographer Thomas P. Peschak

What is your personal breath hold record, static and open water?

Floating in a relaxed position, face down in the water, I can hold my breath for six minutes, but while diving and exerting energy my longest dive has been four minutes.

You are a woman of your principles, do you have any strict standards for coffee? ie Fair Trade, Organic etc.

I am a woman of principles indeed, I'm very principled about getting a coffee before 10am and I turn into a dragon! No seriously, I try to stick to organic and fair trade where I can and support those who sell this, I think it's important for us as consumers to know that the power really does lie with us! It's not that different whether you're buying fish or coffee- know where it comes from and how's everyone around it doing! One small taste is not enough to destroy this beautiful planet and her people for. Be a nice human!

Where are you currently based? What do you love about it and are there any good coffee spots around?

Living in Kalk Bay I am SPOILT for choice when it comes to good coffee! I must be honest lately I have been making my own little mocha pot of espresso with milk substitute each morning, but for a treat I head over to OURS on Rosmead road where Dave and the team make a smooth smooth cup!

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