Sometimes you just want to sneak a quick peek at the ocean and check out the conditions before grabbing your board, fishing rod or beach bag and heading out, right? Well now you can …
All you have to do is switch on your computer, navigate to Umdloti local Graeme Brunt’s website and voila … you can view live streams from high quality cameras that have been carefully positioned at some of the most popular beaches around the country.
He had no idea, when he set out to start his website, oceaneye.co.za, a few months ago, what an incredible response there would be. In fact, within the first 24 hours more than
22 000 people logged on to check out the cameras, which were positioned to overlook beaches in KZN, the Garden Route and Cape Town. “It’s been phenomenal,” says Graeme. “We had 220 000 views within the first two weeks and we are anticipating over 400 000 views in the first month.”
Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Pietermaritzburg, 35-year-old Graeme has always loved the ocean. The former Northwood boy spent many weekends on the beach and surfing as a child and, while ‘messing around’ and making fun surf films while at school, he discovered his passion for film. Although he initially started studying marketing, Graeme says it wasn’t for him and instead he decided to follow his passion and study film, which he did for three years at Durban University of Technology. He then spent more than two years working on yachts overseas, with the goal of saving enough money to stock up on video and film equipment. When he returned to SA Graeme moved to Cape Town (where the film industry is quite big) and that is where he met his now wife and business partner, Justine. He and Justine have lived back in Durban for five years. They have a three-year-old daughter named Ayla and another baby on the way.
While living in Cape Town, the couple started a wedding video business, which was very successful. “We were doing loads of weddings every year, and I was working on my surfing and ‘passion projects’ on the side.” But then, like for so many people, Covid arrived and changed everything.
Graeme is a surfer who is also passionate about ocean conservation. He says he saw a gap in the market for a well-maintained website with high quality live stream ocean-facing cameras and lots of good ocean-related content.
He decided to give it a go. “It took us eight months just to figure out the live-streaming process and make sure we had the correct bandwith, etc. It’s like having our own little TV channel and there is a lot of technical work that goes on in the background.”
Graeme says they had no idea there would be quite so much traffic so quickly and they’ve had to scramble to update and iron out problems caused by the massive surge of traffic. “It’s been a trial and error process and we’ve been fixing and updated cameras and their positioning, but we are so excited about where this business is going.”
One of his biggest goals, Graeme says, is to use the website as a voice for conservationists and ‘ocean people’ who don’t have a voice. “Our high quality camera feeds will draw people to the website, but we want to make sure we have great, relevant and interesting content to keep them coming back. There are so many things and people to focus on – from surfers and paddlers to board shapers and conservationists, all of whom have great stories and wisdom to share.”
Graeme says they are hoping to ‘uplift’ ocean sports and destinations around South Africa with their website, which although is free at the moment, might become subscription-based.
“We want to get to a place where we can live-stream surfing and fishing events and make them great again. We have so many big ideas and visions, but there is a still a long way to go.”
For now though, oceaneye.co.za is a great place for surfers, fishermen, paddlers, SUP boarders, divers (and even parents who just want to take their kids down to the beach) to log on and check out the conditions before heading down to the beach!
In KZN, there are currently cameras at Umdloti Point, Umhlanga, Addington, New Pier and Bay of Plenty.
Details: www.oceaneye.co.za, [email protected]
Text: Leah Shone | Photo: tyanderi.com