Michael Carnegie



Conservation history

I grew up in a family of scientists and conservationists. My Grandfather was head of the Zoology Dept at Rhodes University, my father was an entomologist and my mother is a botanist.

I planned to study marine biology at Rhodes University but instead began studying Fine-art. I left university in 1983 after first year and Joined Unicorn Lines (merchant navy) as a navigating cadet. I then worked for Safmarine lines as an engineering cadet. Following this I did my national service in 1987/88 with the SA Navy where I qualified and served as a navy diver.

Following national service in 1989/90 I worked as a river guide on the Orange river in the Richtersveld. This led to an interest in wilderness conservation and I began working towards becoming more involved with conservation work.

Orange River wilderness trail
Duban Beachfront 1 Jan

From 1991 to 2000 I worked as a lifeguard on the Durban beachfront. During this time I worked at Seaworld as a volunteer diver which involved feeding the fish and sharks in the main tanks, maintaining these and the foyer tanks, helping collect specimens and various jobs at the aquarium and dolphinarium.

During this time I attended regular meetings with SEA (Surfers Environmental Asssosciation) working to find solutions to environmental problems involving surfers. While working as a lifeguard in Jeffreys Bay together with locals we began a petition requesting a marine sanctuary to be made of the area from Boneyards to Albatross.

While doing artwork for Quiksilver I did T-shirt prints and other artwork promoting the Quiksilver Crossing, a trip being made around the world by the Indies Trader encouraging a respect for nature in a spirit of goodwill. A few of my paintings were used on the Zig-Zag calender 2006 to raise money for the Zig-Zag Foundation.

While working for Tripper, who imported sea kayaks I met wilderness guides from the Wilderness Leadership School. I liked the approach of WLS and wanted to link the work I was doing with the WilWe did training to qualify as sea kayak guides and developed ideas for sea kayak trips in the Durban area. Wilderness style outings on a small scale dealing with the sea as a wilderness area.

Bottlenose Dolphins - 2003
Dr Ian Player - 2007

In 2007 I completed a painting of Dr Ian Player, founder of the Wilderness Leadership School, requested by people involved with WLS to celebrate his 80th birthday. The painting was bought by the Maqubu Ntombela Foundation and half the money raised was used to train a WLS guide. This led to me meeting Dr Player who encouraged me to continue developing wilderness style outings dealing with the sea as a wilderness area.

Marine wilderness

In 2008 the painting, Bottlenose Dolphins was entered into the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation Wildlife artist of the year competition. It was selected for the exhibition of shortlisted entries in London where it was sold. Half the money raised was used to fund DSWF conservation projects.

In 2008 I moved to Cape Town. I helped develop the Kelp Environmental Learning Project (KELP) and the Save Our Seas Shark Centre environmental education programme. The KELP project was based at the Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group in Kommetjie. The project provided jobs for people from disadvantaged communities painting Kelp vuvuzelas, promoted environmental causes and included an environmental education programme.

SOS Shark Centre

KELP project

Education programs

Developing these education programs was an opportunity to develop marine wilderness outings into local areas.

Lessons with Isiqalo
Pierre Du Plessis

While developing KELP and the Shark Centre education programme we worked with Two Oceans Aquarium, The City of Cape Town Youth Environment School, WESSA and many other environmental groups. We attended the Marine Coastal Educator Conferences (MCEN)

I linked with the Wilderness leadership School and developed wilderness style outings into the Cape Point reserve with SANParks as part of the KELP and SOS education programmes.

In Kommetjie I met Dr Tony Butt, Big wave surfer, oceanographer and brand ambassador for Patagonia (clothing company) Tony asked me to do a presentation at the Global Wave Conference 2011 in Biarritz, France and San Sebastian, Spain. My subject was connecting to nature through surfing. At the event I met international surf conservationists.

GWC talk 2011

Since 2012 I have been working as a lifeguard with the RNLI in Cornwall UK. This has allowed me to develop ties with international conservationists while continuing to do outings etc in South Africa during the UK winter months.

Cape Point outings
Global Wave Conference 2011

In 2015 the painting, Hartlaub's Gulls was entered into the DSWF WAY competition and was selected for the exhibition of shortlisted entries in London where it was sold. Half the money raised was used to fund DSWF conservation projects.

I spoke at the Global Wave Conference 2015 at the Bedruthan Hotel, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. I did presentations at the Cornwall College, Newquay and developed plans with Plymouth University to help UK students become involved with conservation in SA through projects linked to Rhodes university.

In 2017 the owner of Gone Outdoors in CT contacted me to say he was marketing Patagonia products and wanted to support environmental groups in SA. In 2018 I did a presentation and displayed my art at his shop in CT. A few months later I did a presentation and displayed my paintings and prints at the Patagonis Shop in Manchester (UK)

I began developing an independent marine wilderness charity. I began raffling a painting (Porthcothan 17:50) and selling prints of various paintings to raise money. In August 2018 we held a charity night at the Doghouse, St Merryn, Cornwall.

RNLI - Cornwall
David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year 2015

At this stage £1 300 has been raised through the sale of prints, donations and the charity night. I have also raised £20 000 independently and the total is intended for conservation work in South africa.

My plan is to continue raising money and awareness for marine wilderness conservation in South Africa through presentations and the sales of prints and paintings.

The objectives are:

1 To raise money to buy land on the coast to be managed as conservation areas and used for education and conservation work.

2  Develop projects to help marine wilderness conservation.

3 Continue developing an education programme that informs people about the problems conservationists in South Africa are facing up to and through outings into the outdoors encourages an awareness and appreciation of wild areas and wildlife.

If we do not manage to meet our objectives the funds raised will be given to an organisation or organisations doing similar work.

You can see more info about the conservation work I have been doing by following the links at the side of the page.