August 24, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

In what was one of the best attended marine evenings, with local and international guests, speaker and marine biologist Miranda van der Linde, blew everyone away with her talk on the Social Network of Sperm Whales. Miranda has been studying sperm whales in the Azores archipelago for 9 years and is a guest guide with Dyer Island Cruises for the upcoming southern right whale season.

Research on these mysterious whales has revealed that they are among the most social animals on the planet and exhibit culture, very much like people. This culture, or traditions, is passed on through social learning from one generation to the next, and it varies across the globe. The Azores are a meeting ground and Miranda has identified 13 groups, some that do not interact much and others who are very social and have preferences for other families. Similar to people, some have long term friendships and some are more ‘extroverted’ than others. Sperm whale males are around 18m in length weighing an estimated 57tons and females about 12m and 20 tons. The calves are born at 4m and weigh 1 ton needing some assistance at birth to be helped to the surface to breathe, which is why they have long term bonds as the females assist with babysitting and breastfeeding other calves not just their own. The adult males do not remain with the large groups of females and babies and mostly connect with the females for mating purposes. Sperm whales have only one blow hole on the left hand side of the head so their blow is slanted, very different to our southern right double V blow. Sperm whale diet consists of giant squid and octopus. Their deep diving skills are renowned and they can even remain underwater for up to two hours slowing their heart beat to one beat a minute. Guests heard a recording of their clicking sounds when hunting and when socialising.
Miranda heads to New Zealand in November where she will continue her career with wildlife.

Find Miranda's scientific publication here:

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August 23, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

It’s not all black and white for penguins - in fact, some rather colourful penguins have made their home in Gansbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is proud to be part of Gansbaai’s Penguin Campaign, whose objective it is to create an interest in Gansbaai's attractions by encouraging visitors to explore more and stay longer. Eight colourful giant penguins decorated by artists will be placed at sponsored locations throughout Gansbaai.

The campaign officially launched on Friday, the 23rd of August 2019 at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, where eight colourful penguins gathered to have their photos taken before heading off to their respective ‘homes’.

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, has become a key place to visit in Gansbaai and was the inspiration for the campaign. The African Penguin is an endemic species to South Africa and Namibia – with an estimated 15000 breeding pairs left in South Africa, the species has been on the endangered list since 2010. Historical factors of guano scraping for agricultural fertilizer destroyed their breeding habitat leading to predation during the crucial fledgeling stage. Coupled with an estimated 13million plus eggs that were harvested and considered a delicacy, this caused the initial crash in numbers. Now they face issues of predation by gulls, seal and sharks; oiling; marine pollution; and a lack of fish with overfishing in their crucial hunting grounds. Dyer Island off the coast of Gansbaai is home to a colony of African penguins and the APSS hopes to rebuild this population.

Glenda Kitley, manager of Gansbaai Tourism, had this to say, “The objective is simple: Follow the penguins, discover the places, taste the food, and experience the moments, that the greater Gansbaai area has to offer. Gansbaai area is known as the Natural Adventure Destination and is renowned for the Marine Big Five, blissful beaches, fynbos, fabulous food and fine wine, and much more. Plot your penguin route, place yourself in the penguin picture and present the penguin proof. The penguins are sure to delight young and old and hopefully the real ones will enthral.”

The penguins have been sponsored by various businesses and can be found at these respective locations: The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, Gansbaai Tourism, Marine Dynamics, Lomond Wine Estate, Blue Goose Restaurant, Xplorio, Saxon Lodge and Pearly Beach. Each penguin has been decorated by an artist/s with a focus on all that Gansbaai has to offer. All penguin stories can be found on Xplorio Gansbaai. Quarterly incentive prizes are available for those who visit all eight penguins and share them to the social media space of Gansbaai Tourism’s Instagram with the hashtag #gansbaaipenguins #capewhalecoast Tag @gansbaai-tourism and the venue of the penguin.

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August 20, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust joined John Kieser from Plastics ǀ SA on his trip to hand out materials required for the International Coastal Clean Up. International Coastal Clean Up Day is on the 21st September and various organisations around the world participate. This is in fact John’s 25th clean up that he has been involved in and he collects all the stats from this day. These stats form part of a bigger picture for South Africa and in turn the world as they contribute to the report produced by Ocean Conservancy. The stats are also important for identifying problems and for encouraging manufacturers to change designs if any item keeps cropping up. This in turn helps drive solutions, for example that there is a now a recycling initiative for plastic bottle caps.

Conservation partners in Agulhas, Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay, and Port Elizabeth were visited and provided the opportunity for the DICT to promote the new poster for the fishing line bin. The new poster has a caricature penguin on crutches with a catchy poem designed to catch the attention of all ages. The fishing line bins along the South African coastline are mapped and this live map will soon be available on the DICT website - one will be able to see at a glance where the bins are located as well as the managing authority for the various areas. The DICT also shared more about Project S.T.O.R.M – Stop Our Rubbish Movement – this project of a catch net addresses waste that filters into the ocean via the storm water drains.

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July 25, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s shark biologists Alison Towner and Oliver Jewell are co-authors on a ground-breaking new study published in the science journal Nature. The work confirms that sharks have very limited spatial refuge from industrial longline fisheries in open oceans, worldwide.

This is one of the most substantial collaborative datasets between shark scientists to date, with 150 authors from 26 countries around the world combining their satellite tagging data. Led by David Sims from the Marine Biological Association in the UK, the work identified crucial areas in the high seas across the globe known as ‘pelagic hotspots’ which both sharks and longline fisheries highly utilise. Pelagic longline vessels can deploy up to 100km of line with as many as 1,200 baited hooks daily.

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July 18, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust believes that every day is Mandela Day, but still, the team thought it a good idea to share some tea and cake with some special guests.  

The Trust’s key project, the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, started making bags of newspaper a few years ago, but they needed an extra pair of hands. That was when Mariaan Burger, a local Gansbaai resident, stepped in offering her time and energy to the project. Mariaan was encouraged by Trust founder, Wilfred Chivell, to start a ‘production line’ so that the Great White House and any other interested businesses could buy and use these newspaper bags. Now every Tuesday a  group of dedicated residents from the Silwerjare service centre for older persons in Blompark, meet to enjoy some time together whilst producing bags of varying sizes. These bags are then purchased for use at the Great White House curio shop and have proved to be quite a hit with guests from all over the world. The extra income from the bags is used for the group outings. 

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July 17, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Cresta Shopping Centre has brought the Dyer Island Conservation Trust on board to help drive education about marine conservation.

Our Trust Manager and educator, Pinky Ngewu, attended the opening event and had the opportunity to tell guests about the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, “We work in the protection of all marine species. Our founder’s main passion was taking care of the Dyer Island penguins in Gansbaai in the Western Cape. Our African penguins are facing extinction and are only left with seven years to survive in the wild. We are working on protecting this species so that future generations can enjoy them too.”

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July 14, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Gansbaai is known world-wide as the White Shark capital of the world. But did you know that this coastline has a large diversity of other sharks as well. Around the world we know of over 500 different shark species, 117 of which can be found around the Southern African coast. Our sharks face many threats, mostly from fishing pressures, especially longliners where many are caught as bycatch.

We have a large number of species belonging to the Requiem and catshark families. Our interns from Marine Dynamics Academy joined hands with the children from Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) in catching and measuring various catshark species from our local shores. The animals were tagged with an ORI (Oceanographic Research Institute) tag, after which they were safely released back into the ocean. These activities are a simple but vitally important method to get an impression of how many individuals of each species are swimming around, where these sharks move to, and how fast they grow over time. While this information will go into our research database, it gave the children from DEEP an unprecedented opportunity to interact with local wildlife they would normal never see, and so influence our younger generation to take more care about the wonderful and diverse marine life around our shores.

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July 08, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Hotspots2C has for many years been a valuable tourism partner of Marine Dynamics. It is through this association that Hotspots2C began supporting the penguin nest project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. This nest project has been operation since the inception of the Trust in 2006. The nests or penguin homes are addressing the critical chick stage by providing protection from predators and the elements. Penguins would normally burrow into their layers of built up guano, but this was historically removed and used as fertilizer. In fact, it was called white gold and was fought over in the early 1900s. Guano scraping stopped in the 80s but not before the substrate, usually metres high, was removed from all the penguin breeding colonies. Then we had millions of penguins. Our current 16000 breeding pairs left will never be able to recreate this natural breeding habitat.

The DICT is represented on the African Penguin Habitat Working Group and there is a currently a modified nest being rolled out that will address some heat issues evaluated over the years. Hotspots2C has bought a nest every month and is now a Platinum donor having sponsored 50 nests. 

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July 05, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Inspired by a project in Australia, Wilfred Chivell of Marine Dynamics Tours and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, realised the need for a net system over the storm water drain outlets in Gansbaai. The first identified site was Gansbaai Harbour, an area notorious for plastic pollution and a prime spot to test the efficacy of the net and attachment design. The first net design was sponsored by Marine Dynamics and project leaders Hennie Otto (Marine Dynamics) and Benjamin Kondokter of the Overstrand Municipality placed the net on World Oceans Day 8 June. It was tested during a rainstorm but tore due to a design flaw in the oyster net used. Wilfred and Hennie then approached Ian Wessels of Wildegans Fishery who kindly donated the sardine purse seine net and stitching work required and this was placed on Plastic Bag Free Day 3 July. The nets are designed to prevent pollutants and solid waste, carried by storm water from the local road network, from flowing into the marine environment.

Wilfred had this to say about the project, “We noted the pollution from the storm water drain in the Gansbaai harbour, whilst on a clean-up. The outlet leads straight to nearby rock pools and into the ocean. The kelp that traps some of the waste makes it difficult to clean and this too is ultimately washed out to sea. We have been doing cleans up for twenty years and 80% of the waste is plastic. Dyer Island Conservation Trust is the first port of call for marine animal rescues and strandings in the Gansbaai area and we have witnessed first-hand the impact on our marine wildlife. We hope that through this project we can minimise this impact by reducing the amount of waste entering the marine system. Unfortunately, most of the waste will probably not be suitable for recycling, but we will do this where possible. This is a worldwide problem and our dream is to roll this out in the Overstrand and in South Africa.”

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June 29, 2019

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is relieved to hear that Minister Barbara Creecy announced she was temporarily suspending exploratory octopus fishing with immediate effect after several whales died getting tangled in nets. The Trust team together with other concerned organisations and individuals raised this issue with the government over the last couple of years to no avail and it is interesting that only a public outcry had the desired effect.

CEO of the Dyer Island Conservation trust, Wilfred Chivell, had this to say, “Well done to all those involved who have been pushing for this closure for the last few years and to all those who signed the petition. We commend Minister Creecy for taking a stand. Only a few were, in fact, benefitting from this industry whilst whales paid the price. South Africa is against whale hunting yet allowed these unnecessary deaths for too long. We will continue to fight for the protection of our environment and we do hope the same attention will be given to the matter of longlining vessels that are currently affecting our marine ecosystems. Marine eco-tourism is non-consumptive and more emphasis on this industry would benefit South Africa as a whole.”

Media Releases:
The South African - Fisheries Minister suspends octopus fishing after whale deaths
Environmental Affairs - Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries concerned over entanglement of whales in fishing gear


June 24, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

“Our mind is a limitless sky and we can only be an albatross flying in the vast expanse to occasionally discover the joys of sublimity!”
- Avijeet Das

Every so often we get a call to assist with a large seabird. If you know your birds, you will know that “large seabird” is not referenced as a species in any birding guides. We normally have great fun to then guess which member of the very general “large seabird” group we are going to encounter. Will it be an over-weight gull, or a pecky petrel or will it be an alluring albatross?

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June 21, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

A canary in a coal mine is an advanced warning of some danger. The metaphor originates from the times when miners used to carry caged canaries while at work; if there was any methane or carbon monoxide in the mine, the canary would die before the levels of the gas reached those hazardous to humans.

To be aware about plastic pollution is one thing, to be confronted with a dead African penguin, where the cause of death is starvation due to plastic ingestion, emphasises the very hard and depressing reality that we need to pay heed to the klaxon alarm that has been sounding for a while.

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June 16, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

White shark biologist Alison Towner and Brenda du Toit of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust were privileged to be the speakers at the FynArts Hermanus event ‘Lifestyle Environmental Lunch’ at LaPentola. Chef Shane Sauvage is a committed donor to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a key project of the Trust and all proceeds from the lunch will be donated to the sanctuary. The talk focused on marine conservation efforts that included African penguin conservation, white shark research, environmental education and marine pollution efforts.
“Shane’s continual generosity for our marine life continues to astound us all at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. His La Pentola family truly are special and continue to help us fight what often seems like an uphill struggle for our marine life. Also a huge thanks to Barbara from Onrus Manor for her fundraising efforts as a further R1710 was donated by guests.”– Alison Towner.

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June 07, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

World Ocean’s Day is a great time for us to highlight the importance and raise awareness of our ocean systems. To celebrate this day the 2019 intake of Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) joined one of our Biologists for the morning to learn about some of the smaller, less talked about but just as important species of elasmobranchs that we find in the area. The DEEP kids learnt that some sharks and rays give birth to live young, whilst approximately 30% of species actually lay eggs (oviparious), and that once the pup has hatched these eggs may wash ashore. We had a fun morning learning about the oviparious species that can be found in the waters surrounding Gansbaai, and after an exciting shark egg hunt we learnt how to identify which egg belongs to which species.

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June 05, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

World Environment Day is the United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s fishing line bin project is growing due to the partnership with Plastics ǀ SA and MacNeil Plastics. MacNeil Plastics is donating the material required to make our fishing line bins and we share with you their press release below.
In August, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust will be on the road with Plastics ǀ SA to prepare for the International Coastal Clean Up Day September and to launch our new poster of the project. The poster was designed by artist Martinus van Tee and highlights the impact on just one of our marine species, the endangered African penguin. We aim to see this educational poster in fishing stores and schools in South Africa.

The Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling Programme uses PVC pipes to create receptacles that stand 60 cm high, and are erected at beaches around the country as repositories for used, discarded monofilament fishing line. Since the project was launched for the first time in 2010 as a best practice in partnership with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, conservation groups and various local authorities, it has met with overwhelming support by anglers, boaters and local communities.
“We frequently see sea birds and marine life trapped or killed as a result of fishing line that was not properly discarded and removed from our oceans or beaches. Each year, the results of the International Coastal Clean-Up show that discarded fishing line continues to be a major pollutant on our country’s beaches, along with plastic bottles, sweet wrappers, straws and lollypop/earbud sticks. For this reason, a follow-up project that encourages the public to discard their lollypop sticks and straws in a similar receptacle was launched at the end of 2018,” explains John Kieser, Sustainability Manager of Plastics|SA.
As a result of the success of the project, more than 386 bins can be found at most of the popular angling beaches around South Africa’s coastline, with plans to extend this number to 500 reaching as far afield as Mozambique. More than 350 kg’s of discarded fishing line have already been removed, some of which has been recycled into bush cutters line. In excess of 500 fishing hooks have also been retrieved from these bins.
In order to introduce the project to communities and raise awareness about the dangers of carelessly discarded fishing line and other plastics to the marine environment, Plastics|SA and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust will be embarking on a special roadshow from Cape Agulhas to the East London Aquarium between the 12th and 16th of August 2019. Sponsors of the roadshow will be Petco, MacNeil Plastics and Volkswagen SA.
“We are thrilled to be able to support this amazing initiative with PVC donations because of the importance of cleaning our beaches. It is important for us to also highlight the fact that plastic products are being used to assist in removing waste from our beaches, not only proving the versatility and importance of plastics, but also the importance of correct disposal. PVC pipes are resistant to the elements and corrosion and are therefore ideal for long-term use on beaches. The unique shape of the pipes and U-Bend end-pieces prevent the lines from blowing away. The project has already proved to be very successful and we at MacNeil Plastics are proud to be involved in this project in a practical way,” concluded Andre Auret, Sales Director of MacNeil Plastics.

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May 27, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Over the weekend scientists from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, in collaboration with the Acoustic Tracking Array Platform (ATAP), replaced several acoustic receivers in the Gansbaai area.

On Saturday afternoon Alison Towner, Ralph Watson and Toby Rogers went out on Lwazi, with skipper Francois Swart, and several Marine Dynamics Academy intern and volunteers, to recover three acoustic receivers near Dyer Island. These receivers hold valuable data on marine animals that have been tagged with acoustic transmitters, including white sharks, and can tell us a lot about how long they reside in an area, and where these animals go afterwards. These receivers are part of a large network around South Africa, under the auspices of ATAP. By collaborating with scientists around South Africa, we’re able to learn a lot about these animals not just within our area, but also around our entire coastline.

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Dwarf Minke Whale Stranding

May 23, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

On the evening of the 21st of May 2019, Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s CEO Wilfred Chivell, was contacted by Neil Falck regarding the stranding of a Minke Whale at Struisbaai. A team consisting of Wilfred, and biologists Alison Towner, Kelly Baker and Ralph Watson was dispatched the next morning to investigate.

Based upon colour-patterns and personal investigation, it was determined that the individual was a male Dwarf Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata subsp). No external markings were visible that could explain the cause of death. Its eyes were missing, which could possibly be explained by scavenging sea-birds. Its length was suspected to be approximately 2.5 meters. It was clearly a young specimen. “It is rare for this species to wash up and although sad, it is scientifically intriguing,” said Wilfred.

The Dwarf Minke whale was collected by DEA (Oceans and Coast) and taken to Cape Town for the necropsy.

It was great for the team to cross paths with the team from Oceans and Coasts - Deon Kotze and Steven McCue; as well as fellow marine naturalists Peter Chadwick and Jean Trefson.

Marine animal stranding response in the Overberg area is managed by a collaborative group of organisations: CapeNature, Department of Environmental Affairs, Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Hermanus Animal Hospital 24HR Service, Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, National Sea Rescue Institute, Overberg District Municipality and Overstrand Municipality.

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May 19, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

On the morning of Thursday the 16th of May, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust team and Marine Dynamics Academy intern Jade Sookhoo conducted a necropsy at the International Marine Volunteer Lodge on a prenatal bronze whaler shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus). This shark was part of a litter of 12 pups collected from a pregnant female bronze whaler that was found stranded on De Plaat on the 5th of March, 2019. (See link to previous DICT blog on discovery and collection).
The necropsy was performed in the presence of a group of learners from Gansbaai Academia, as part of their Marine Science curriculum, together with teacher Lizelle Carolus and Xavier Zylstra from Two Oceans Aquarium.

The necropsy process is a lengthy one, even for a specimen so small, and starts with an extensive array of external examination including a large collection of measurements of size and form before the first incision is made. This quantitative data is of great importance as it can reveal many things to us and be used to support and complement the classic taxonomic identification or reveal a new species when discrepancies are discovered in these measurements.

This was the first time DICT examined a prenatal specimen. The female pup, which was in the later stages of development, measured a total length of 67.5cm and weighed in at 1.85kgs. Bronze whalers reproduce viviparously: just like humans the embryo is attached to a placenta by an umbilical cord, and is still dependent on nutrients from the mother. As a result of this, the stomach was still empty, and the spiral valve lacked their signature folds.
The gestation period of bronze whalers is still uncertain, but research suggests the female carries the pups for a duration of approximately 12 to 21 months. Based on the development of the pup, we think she was perhaps weeks away from being born.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust collaborates with various researchers around the country and value the sharing of data to further expand our knowledge base. Apart from collecting fin-clipping samples for genetic analysis, we also isolated both gill-sets for parasite analysis, and the whole head for a project that analyses the neurological network of sharks.

During the necropsy, the learners from Gansbaai Academia asked our scientists loads of questions about sharks, and they learned a lot about why we do these measurements, about shark physiology, and how sharks work internally.
A special thanks to Janine Taylor, Anthony Fouche and Marcelino Henckert for reporting original stranding of the sharks and to the Marine Science programme team at Gansbaai Academia for being part of the necropsy.

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May 17, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

International Recycling Day was created in 2018 to help recognize, and celebrate, the importance recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and securing the future of our planet. The theme of 2019 was ‘Recycling into the Future’ with the aim of driving awareness and pushing the urgency of recycling. Recycling (whether at an industrial level or within schools and home) can save more Carbon Dioxide emissions each year than those generated by the entire aviation industry, while simultaneously protecting the earth’s valuable natural resources.
Recycling Day is used as a catalyst to change the mind-set of governments, businesses, communities and individuals around the world, to see recyclables as a resource and not waste. Without recycling, all our used and discarded tins, plastic bottles, packing boxes, old clothes, glass bottles and paper cups will contribute to the growing waste mountains, which are either burnt or sent to landfill – never to be used again. Without recycling, we have no option but to continue stripping the earth of her resources.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP has taken an initiative to celebrate recycling day by hosting a Trashion Show at Masakhane Primary School to show that we can turn Trash into Treasure. This show was attended by the community members, Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises staff and the Masakhane learners and teachers.

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April 29, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust team is excited to hear this good news with regards to the lifting of a shark net in Richards Bay (Kwazulu-Natal), to better protect the endangered Humpback dolphins. Well done to marine biologist Shanan Atkins and the team that worked on this. It’s a much needed step forward in finding alternatives to bather protection shark nets. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is part of the SouSA Consortium and has been studying the humpback dolphin population in the Kleinbaai (Western Cape) area for over a decade. We hope that with positive steps forward like this that our sharks will ultimately be afforded the same protection.

"The shark net that kills the most endangered humpback dolphins has recently been removed. This net was protecting the often-empty “inside” beach at Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, where many more dolphins were caught than potentially dangerous sharks. The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board has replaced the offending shark net with four baited hooks (drumlines).
Humpback dolphins are endangered because they are rare, they reproduce slowly and only occur in a narrow band of very shallow coastal waters, close to shore - an area that is fast being modified and degraded. In KwaZulu-Natal, the best place to find these shy dolphins is on the Thukela Bank, a shallow shelf that juts out between the Thukela River and St Lucia. Research has revealed Richards Bay is a hotspot for humpback dolphins – an area that is popular with the dolphins but overlaps with many human-induced threats. A major threat is the shark nets.
Shark nets are gillnets set to catch and kill sharks, to lower the population of sharks in order to reduce the risk of shark attack. In addition to the three species of sharks that are targeted by these nets, other non-target species are caught and killed, including dolphins. These unfortunate, unintentional catches are called bycatch. In KwaZulu-Natal, there are 37 beaches that have shark nets. One beach, Richards Bay, has by far the greatest bycatch of humpback dolphins (60% of the humpback dolphin bycatch in just 5% of the province’s shark nets).
Since 2010, 26 humpback dolphins have died in the six shark nets at Richards Bay. Conservation biologists from the project Conserve Dolphins, working in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, analysed the spatial distribution of the bycatch and found that nearly half of these deaths occurred in just one of the nets – “net 99”. Over the same period, net 99 caught a single target shark. The scientists went on to study how often people surf and swim at the Richards Bay beaches. Results indicated that Newark Beach which is protected by net 99 (called “the inside beach” by locals) is used only rarely, on average less than 10 times per month.
At the beginning of April, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board replaced this net with four baited hooks (commonly known as drumlines). Drumlines have been widely used in KZN since 2007 without compromising bather safety (and in Queensland, Australia since 1962). They work on the same principle as the shark nets; killing sharks to reduce the chance of a shark attack, but on the positive side, they catch fewer non-target species. Says Greg Thompson, Head of Operations at the Sharks Board: “Drumlines have proved invaluable in providing protection against shark-inflicted injury along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, catching potentially dangerous sharks, but with very little bycatch of dolphins, rays, turtles and harmless sharks.” One net on Alkantstrand’s main beach was also replaced with baited hooks and in total there are now four nets and nine baited hooks protecting bathers at Richards Bay.
The deaths of 26 dolphins in nine years may not sound a lot, but given how rare these dolphins are, and how slowly they breed, that mortality rate is unlikely to be sustainable. Net 99 alone killed an average of 1.2 dolphins per year. Therefore, removing it could reduce the bycatch by a third and potentially saves one humpback dolphin life each year. That is a significant saving. "Considering bycatch is one of the main threats to the endangered humpback dolphin in South Africa, this is a huge step forward in the right direction to ensure the species' long-term survival and well-being in our waters!" observes Dr Els Vermeulen of the SouSA Consortium. The SouSA Consortium is a group of 16 dolphin researchers stationed around South Africa’s coast that have teamed up to study humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) at a national level.
Local citizen scientist and dolphin enthusiast, Dave Savides, is a regular at Richards Bay’s Dolphin Viewing Platform where he photographs humpback dolphins for the project Conserve Dolphins. In the past he witnessed one of those 11 dead humpback dolphins being retrieved from net 99. He confesses: “It is such a relief to look out and see these graceful creatures feeding and playing and not have to worry that one might get caught and drown in that awful shark net.”
A webcam looks out over this area and humpback dolphins can sometimes be seen. This live view of the Richards Bay beaches can be found at . Viewers are encouraged to report dolphin sightings via the webpage."

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April 16, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Why are we designing the perfect artificial African penguin nest? 

Before the advent of artificially produced fertiliser, guano was considered a top quality fertiliser rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and
potassium. Guano (an Inca word for a mix of eggshell, feathers, decayed corpses and bird excrement) was scraped from the penguin breeding islands. On Dyer Island, the guano layer was between 4-6m deep. Penguins used to build their nests by burrowing into the thick layers of guano. This “forced removal” from well protected, temperature controlled burrows to open surface nests, exposed the African Penguin to the harsh African heat and occasional flooding. The “open-plan” living arrangement turned their eggs and chicks into an easy meal for predators like gulls & skuas.
At the start of the nest / housing project in 2006, the main aim of the artificial nests was to provide protection from predation. The original nests were manufactured from fibre-glass and although the nests addressed the predation problem, research indicated that the nests became too hot inside. Penguins simply abandoned the nest leaving eggs and chicks behind.
Meeting the housing needs of the African penguin started us on the quest for the perfect penguin penthouse. Research told us that the guano burrows provided the penguins with:
• A constant micro-climate
• High relative humidity
• Buffered temperatures
• Little exposure to the wind
• Shelter from rain & predation

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April 03, 2019 OLIVER JEWELL

It’s been more than five years since I moved my life from Gansbaai and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, first to Europe and then Australia, which I still find incredible to believe… how time flies… But I remain an associate researcher with the Trust and Marine Dynamics and I’m proud to announce our latest paper in collaboration between the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems, Murdoch University, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Conservation Research Team and Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University has just been released in Biology Letters. In 2014, we launched a research expedition to the very same areas I’d spent many hours of my life tracking white sharks or guiding for Marine Dynamics Shark Tours around Dyer Island. We had already discovered this region hosted the largest aggregation of white sharks in the world, that they used small areas around the island when foraging, performed two distinct predatory behavioural modes and that in response to the presence of white sharks, seals would use kelp forest as a refuge. What we didn’t know is quite how all these interactions played out underwater.

Cue fin-cams! Or more specifically Animal-borne video and environmental data collection systems (AVEDs for short). These are specially designed tags which include ‘daily-diaries’ similar to Fitbits that log the movements of the animals in three-dimensions while the camera allows us to see what the shark does.

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April 03, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Tourism partners, friends, and media, gathered at an evening event with the team of Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics to look back at nearly two decades of research, conservation and education achievements.

Our marine environment is under immense pressure and over the last two decades that Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises have been in operation, we have been witness to it. Throughout our dedicated work, we continually identify gaps in marine conservation, science, and awareness in their area.

The Dyer Island ecosystem is a complex and incredibly diverse habitat supporting the Marine Big 5 – sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and the endangered African penguin. We are a team of dedicated biologists, expert support crew, a dive team, and volunteers from all corners of the planet. Driven by a sense of purpose and responsibility the team’s greatest role every day is to ensure a positive interactive experience, monitor marine species and educate guests. The daily observational data from the eco-tourism vessels is critical and plays a large role in monitoring of species and forms the basis for our scientific publications. Scientific evidence is imperative to being able to influence policy decisions. We have 18 years of consistently collected observations from Dyer Island Cruises and 14 years from Marine Dynamics some of the world’s most extensive databases that exist for Southern African marine species.

The question of whether tourism does enough to conserve the wild habitat and species upon which their experiences are based, has been raised. Owner and founder of Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust spreads the message that “Your Choice Makes a Difference’ encouraging tour operators and travellers that choosing ethical operators is a way of giving back and ensuring your spending contributes to so much more.

Our key message was that even though we may be in a small part of the world, much can be achieved on a global level, with a dedicated team. Past achievements of conservation for the white shark and endangered African penguin were shared. The team also does Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) studies, estuary monitoring, tagging of smaller shark species, seabird monitoring, shark egg collection – all in efforts to understand and protect this delicate ecosystem. “HOPE, ACTION and URGENCY will continue to drive our conservation and community work. We use events like this to spread the word and to effect change. Change becomes reality when people are informed about issues,” said Chivell. “We hosted the auction and raffle to add some fun to the event and were grateful to raise R28 500 which will support the efforts of the Trust. None of our work is possible without the support of our private and corporate donors, and the invaluable support of our conservation partners and the tourism industry.”

The event was held at the Two Oceans Aquarium who very kindly sponsored the venue in their incredible new predator exhibit room. Liezel van der Westhuizen was the MC and made sure to keep the audience entertained with her amazing energy and clear passion for marine conservation. The auctioneer MC du Toit made the bidding on items very entertaining and upbeat, sparking lots of laughs from the guests. So many people came together to help us have a great evening sharing our conservation journey with our travel partners, media, and friends.

Special Thanks to: 

Two Oceans Aquarium
Marine Dynamics & Dyer Island Cruises
Liezel van der Westhuizen
MC du Toit - BidX1
Martinus van Tee Illustration
Marethe Honey
Worldwide Experience – Pearl Valley Hotel
Village & Life – Pezulu Hotel
Misty Waves Hermanus & La Pentola Restaurant
Luxury Safaris Southern Africa & PG Tops
Wine Flies
Baz Bus
Ilios Travel
Old McDaddy
Adventure Shop
Cape Side Car Adventures
Soul Properties
Cape Food & Wine Tours – Earthstompers
Aquila Private Game Reserve
Sunflower Stop
Village & Life - Bay Hotel
Stellenbosch Vineyards
Van Loveren Family Vineyards
Old Road Wine Co.
Lomond Wine Estate

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March 20, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The 2019 intake of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP), joined Greenpop’s Treevolution Reforest Festival this weekend in Platbos. This was an Eco-friendly, Zero Waste event for families to rebuild this indigenous ancient forest. It was a weekend filled with fun activities, puppet shows, forest walks, talent show and music and a platform to educate people about the importance of trees. Over 500 people attended this camp and ±2000 trees were planted on Saturday. “The DEEP kids enjoyed themselves and loved the tents. This was their first time camping. They had the opportunity to mingle with other children from different schools and to experience vegetarian meals. Special thanks to Wilfred Chivell and the staff of Marine Dynamics for the support of this outing,” said Trust educator, Pinkey Ngewu.


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March 19, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

In 2018, our penguin philanthropist, Mike Gibbs, kindly donated a special drawing of African penguins by Hermanus artist Malcolm Bowling. This picture went on silent auction at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS). It finally has a home - with the Kendziorski family. The Kendziorski’s are from the USA and have been volunteering their time at APSS while in South Africa. Alex, Rebecca and their son Liam, were very excited to take this picture home. They are previous donors to the sanctuary and the APSS team is grateful for their generous R8500 donation for this iconic image of rehabilitated penguins.

The Kendziorski’s had the following to say, “We are grateful that we can participate in one of the last chances to prevent the extinction of the African penguin. Working with the birds directly has also been a joy as well as inspiring. Seeing how our donations are put to use in person has given us great confidence in our continued support. We can all be part of the change needed to save the penguins. Reducing the use of plastics, shoreline clean-ups, and learning and sharing information about what actions you are doing to help prevent their extinction. We are better together.”

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Great White Sharks Tagged in Gansbaai

March 15, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

“We are thrilled to have acoustic tagged two Great White Sharks from our research boat today!”, said shark biologist Alison Towner. It’s been over two years since a transmitter (tag) has been deployed on a white shark in Southern African waters largely due to their unpredictable distribution patterns, and a notable decline in white sharks visiting two Western Cape aggregation sites.


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March 07, 2019 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

On Tuesday the 5th March at 9 am, Anthony Fouche of Gansbaai documented the carcasses of eight large bronze whaler sharks at Die Plaat, Gansbaai. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) / Marine Dynamics team were notified in the late afternoon and made their way down to the site to collect them.

On arrival, the team found three of the eight dead sharks. It is assumed that the rest were taken away to be sold, as the bronze whaler is a commercially fished species. Even though bronze whalers are generally regarded as low value there is a market for both their meat and fins for export in South Africa. Of the three shark carcasses left on the beach, the DICT team were able to confirm that all were reproductively mature, measuring around 3 meters each. One was a heavily pregnant female with the tail of a pup expelled from her cloaca. The team removed the pup and decided to open the mother shark to attempt to save any other remaining pups. Another 13 full grown shark pups were found, likely just days away from birth, but unfortunately all the pups were deceased due to the extent of time the shark had been dead. Bronze whaler sharks do not reach maturity until approx. 20 years old and this information is important as it supports the fact that the Walker Bay waters, similar to False Bay, are being utilised as feeding areas for pregnant sharks and even possibly a nursery area for this IUCN near threatened species. Another pregnant female carcass washed up in Walker Bay on the morning of the 7th.

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International Marine Volunteer donates R50 000 to Conservation

February 19, 2019

Wilfred Chivell of Marine Dynamics and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust was ecstatic to receive a R50 000 donation from International Marine Volunteer Susy Alexandersen. This money will go to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s conservation and community efforts.

Norwegian based Alexandersen had this to say, “In 2013 I went to Gansbaai for the very first time for shark cage diving as a client and I got to learn about Marine Dynamics and the International Marine Volunteer programme for the first time and about this amazing man Wilfred Chivell and what he does for conservation and marine life. I have always loved Great Whites and the mysteries of the ocean ever since I was a kid, so for my 30th Birthday in December I wanted to have a big donation party for the Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics. And also talk about it and what important work they do. I’m now here for the fourth time and I will always return to my favourite place on earth and I am so happy I can help.”

If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer/intern programme visit the Marine Dynamics Academy website:


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World Wetlands Day

February 02, 2019 Pinkey Ngewu

World  Wetlands Day (WWD) on 2 February  is a key environmental day on the calendar.  This global movement was established in 1971 in order to raise awareness about the value of wetlands  for humanity and the planet. World Wetlands Day  was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and has grown remarkably since then. The Theme for 2019 is, "Wetlands and  Climate Change ". Wetlands  are impacted by changes in  temperature,  rainfall , sea level rise and extreme events. Wetlands play an important  role in our approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation,  through  capturing and storing carbon to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases and providing resilience to hazards such as flooding,  storm surge and  sea level rise . The Dyer Island Conservation Trust's Environmental Education Programme known as  DEEP waa joined by  Febe Van  Tonder of PlasLantic, a committed  supporter  of DEEP  for the past three years. Educator  Pinkey Ngewu presented a wetland model designed  by the Marine Dynamics Academy  interns and  explained how wetlands absorb carbon dioxide. 

As Pinkey  explained, "The good thing about  wetlands is that they can cleanse and filter water as it moves through , but too much  contamination can destroy these natural  filtering systems". The DEEP group  was encouraged  to adapt their  mindset that, "We are not  powerless against climate change ". 

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Marine Evening Ralph Watson

January 31, 2019 Pinkey Ngewu


Ralph Watson, Ph.D. Candidate at Rhodes University, and a marine biologist guide at Marine Dynamics was the speaker at the latest Marine Evening held by Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Ralph was born in Johannesburg but raised in the Netherlands. From a young age, it was clear his interests lay in the natural world around him and studying biology was his destiny. Ralph studied genetics but quickly realized he wanted to be out in the field. He returned to South Africa and has spent the last seven years working in the marine biology field. He studied the shark diversity in False Bay and smaller shark species in Mossel Bay. During the Marine Evening he shared more on their characters and movements providing guests a deeper appreciation of these often overlooked sharks.

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January 07, 2019

Black and white dress was the order of the day at the second March for the Penguins held at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Gansbaai. This family friendly event held on the 21st December attracted over 180 participants.

The event held two objectives – critical fundraising and awareness of the African Penguin and its endangered status. Trudi Malan, Conservation Manager of APSS, reminded everyone that the race we must win is that of beating 2026, the estimated year the African penguin could go extinct in the wild. The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and strives to turn around their possible extinction by returning penguins they have saved from injuries, disease or pollution, back to their natural habitat where they can continue to breed.

Although an untimed run, Louw Burger once again came in first in 20min15secs. Colourful kites, that included Nemo and a flying octopus, brightened the sky. Participants could have a caricature done by artist Marthinus van Tee. Health and Active spinathon attracted dedicated spinners and a few people who managed a short spin for the penguins.

The community supported the event in various ways and thanks are due to many. Special thanks are extended to all participants, and volunteers who gave of their time to make the morning a success. Thanks to the traffic department that helped keep everyone safe on the road sections. Special thanks to: Marine Dynamics; Dyer Island Cruises; CapeNature; Sterling Private Wealth; LaPentola Restaurant; Health & Active Gansbaai; Kia Hermanus; Great White House; Grootbos Private Nature Reserve; Xplorio; Gansbaai Spar; Gerhard van der Merwe; Catherine Wright; Kia Hermanus; Gansbaai Tourism; Fat Bike Tours; Stanford Hills; Tasting Room; Panthera Africa; Cape Cup; Gansbaai Coffee Company; Lomond Wine Estate; Ronnie Crafford; Crazylicious Cookies; Hair Tizelle; Coffee on the Rocks; Jukani / Birds of Eden / Monkeyland

The APSS is open daily from 9am to 4pm with a 3pm feeding time. Coffee and curio shop onsite and entrance is free, although donations are welcome.

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December 18, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP works with dedicated groups of young learners and runs for three years to monitor and evaluate the impact and growth of each and every individual learner. Our aim is to expose these young learners to the field of science and conservation and serve as a forerunner for future skills training. It is with a mixture of sadness and pride that we say goodbye to the first group to have completed their three years. Educator Pinkey Ngewu gave each learner a certificate and celebrated with the groups in their second and first year.

The students learn about the marine world, participate in beach cleanups, go out to sea with partners Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics and go on special excursions relevant to the programme, including a yearend camp. The students learn to present to an audience, understand the Marine Big 5 and some of the other animals in the area, learn about our crucial wetlands and issues related to marine pollution. They are exposed to any special conservation moments that the staff of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust experience.

“We hope we have given them a strong platform and wish them all the best for their future academic performance. We will be watching their development over the next few years and hope that some, if not all, will follow a career path in conservation,” says Pinkey.

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December 18, 2018

White shark experts from across the globe came together to map out the priorities for future research on the species. Our shark biologist, Alison Towner, contributed to this critical paper, as did her PhD supervisor Dr Malcom Smale, and past students affiliated with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

“White sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, are often described as elusive, with little information available due to the logistical difficulties of studying large marine predators that make long-distance migrations across ocean basins. Increased understanding of aggregation patterns, combined with recent advances in technology have, however, facilitated a new breadth of studies revealing fresh insights into the biology and ecology of white sharks. Although we may no longer be able to refer to the white shark as a little-known, elusive species, there remain numerous key questions that warrant investigation and research focus. The themes developed here provide a global road map for white shark research that will enable further comparisons among aggregation sites and a broader understanding of white shark ecology.”

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A Penguin Philanthropist

November 28, 2018

What does a real African penguin patron do for Christmas? He commissions an artist to do a painting of his beloved penguins, he uses it on his personal Christmas cards and he then donates the original painting along with a number of the Christmas cards to the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary to raise some much needed funds. Mike Gibbs, one of our most ardent supporters and a previous trustee of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, is a true penguin philanthropist.

A man as passionate as Mike about the protection of not only the African penguin but the greater environment had to find an artist that understood this mindset.  Artist Malcolm Bowling shares Mike’s passion for the environment and has a special fondness for birds. According to Malcolm, he is not a fanatical “twitcher” but the attentive stillness required to capture the essence of a bird is for him akin to mindfulness – one of the buzzwords of our time. “I think the world would be a better place if more people would take more time to observe, to listen to experience. There is a dichotomy of peace and revitalisation when one is enjoying Nature. It has driven my soul and, therefore, my art and photography” says Malcolm.

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November 18, 2018

In its third year, the Marine Month competition run by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust with eco-tourism partners Marine Dynamics & Dyer Island Cruises, and with the support of conservation partners, the Overstrand Municipality and Birdlife Overberg, reached 16 schools in the Overberg area. This campaign, held every October, aims to raise awareness of the importance of our oceans.

The competition is aimed at all ages with various categories:
Category 1-COLOURING (Grades 1-3)
Category 2-POETRY (Grades 4-7)
Category 3-ESSAY (Grades 8 - 11)

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November 14, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is extremely grateful to Fujifilm for sponsoring a brand new camera! The X-T100 was received by Alison Towner and Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust on Tuesday the 6th of November in Tygerberg, Cape Town. Fujifilm expert Hein Hough handed the camera over, complete with 15-45 mm and 50-230 mm lenses.

Attractive features about this camera are its ability to pair via bluetooth with a smartphone allowing instant viewing of photos. Its compact lightweight design makes it perfect for going out into nature, and the photo quality is excellent. The X-T100 also has a unique LCD design that allows it to both tilt and flip out to the side but not rotate.

“Funding for scientific resources is very thin in South Africa so we are extremely grateful for this sponsorship and look forward to using the X-T100, especially at sea for capturing identification photos of our marine life”, says Alison Towner

Thanks are extended to Gillie Hine from FujiFilm South Africa for arranging this sponsorship.

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November 08, 2018

Duncan Butchart is a naturalist, illustrator and photographer. He is the author and editor of numerous articles and books on wildlife, including Wildlife of South Africa (Struik Nature). Duncan has travelled the globe drawing inspiration from nature. Duncan is a specialist in ecotourism communication and created the beautiful seabird pamphlet for pelagic birding cruises with the Trust’s eco-tourism partners Marine Dynamics / Dyer Island Cruises.

As a dear friend of the Trust, he completed this arty image of Trust founder and Marine Dynamics CEO Wilfred Chivell and the marine animals he loves so dearly. Wilfred started the term, the Marine Big 5 depicting the whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and penguins of the Dyer Island ecosystem. Using the medium of digital painting, Duncan captured all this perfectly well and included seabirds of course. Wilfred was grateful and surprised with this personal image. Duncan sent the following message: “It’s a present for you Wilfred - in admiration of everything you do for marine conservation.”

You can see more of Duncan’s work on his site: Never A Gull Moment

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November 06, 2018

Judith Scott presented a Marine Evening on her lifelong passion for whales, travel and photography. This whale enthusiast has been working for Dyer Island Cruises for the past three whale seasons as a guide on the Marine Big 5 tours. She first started working with whales eighteen years ago after falling in love with them at the age of seven.

Judith has worked on whale watching boats in many places and presented us with information on the various species that can be seen in different parts of the world. She also told us about her work on The Voyage of the Odyssey, a five year global voyage that sailed around the world studying pollution levels building up in sperm whales. Judith has developed a passion for photography through her work and showed us many of her images captured while whale watching off every continent. To view more of her images captured on Marine Big 5 tours, visit Dyer Island Cruises’ DAILY BLOG. These blogs capture the best sightings in the Dyer Island ecosystem throughout the year.

She currently works here in South Africa until December before travelling to Iceland and Mexico to continue working with a variety of species of whales and dolphins. Judith’s passion for whales is absolutely contagious and she is a stellar marine wildlife ambassador.

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October 10, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust Environmental Education Programme, known as DEEP, works with dedicated learners from Masakhane Primary school. The programme started in 2016 and runs for three years, with a new intake of 12 students each year. The long-term approach enables effective monitoring and evaluation of their progress and the impact that environmental education can have on young kids.

At the end of each year, learners go on an educational camp. This year learners from the second and third year attended an educational camp at Wortelgat in Stanford, where they spent the weekend learning about respect, teamwork and trust. The weekend included a fun-filled day of activities on Saturday - Viking games, nature walks, environmental quizzes, a trust walk, volleyball, stumbling blocks, spider webs and water activities. The learners had water activities on the Stanford river where a fun Mr & Mrs Wortelgat was selected.

Educator Pineky Ngewu said of the camp, “My three-year journey with the DEEP Blue ambassadors has taught me that we should focus on the personal development of our younger generation. These young people are our future leaders, decision makers and legislators, and they can have a profound impact on their community. Watching them grow in self-confidence and improved language skills is very rewarding. This camp was a lifetime experience for them.”

We would like to thank our sponsors of the camp - Mike Gibbs, Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises.

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October 08, 2018

This fishing line entangled African penguin was spotted by the skipper of Dreamcatcher, the Dyer Island Cruises boat, just off Kleinbaai on the 17th September 2018. The penguin was heavily entangled with line tightly wound through the beak, around the neck, flippers and feet preventing the bird from swimming or diving. The penguin was exhausted and drowning was imminent.

The team from Dyer Island Conservation Trust immediately launched Happy Feet, a smaller rubber duck that allows them to operate in shallow water. The penguin was rescued and rushed to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary. The APSS team together with Dr Marc Walton commenced with "plastic surgery" immediately.

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October 03, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has been a participant of the educational tent at the Hermanus Whale Festival since 2009.

This platform provides an opportunity to reach the 100 000 or more people that visit the annual festival. The team works hard to educate the public on the marine species of the area especially the Marine Big 5 - whales, sharks, penguins, dolphins and seals. The Hermanus Whale Festival is in its 27th year and the real stars of the show are the southern right whales that visit the sheltered bay to mate and calve providing some wonderful viewing opportunities from land. This year visitors were able to make an ocean pledge and surf the recycled plastic wave as DICT together with their corporate sponsor, Volkswagen SA, are ‘riding the wave together for a cleaner ocean’.

Alison Towner is the senior shark biologist at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and gave a talk on how critical sharks are to the ecosystem. Special thanks to Shane Sauvage of LaPentola restaurant who closed his restaurant for the time of his talk and brought all his staff to listen. Xolani Lawo, senior bird rehabilitator at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, spoke on the plight of the African penguin and shared some rehabilitation moments. The Trust’s presence at the festival was sponsored by eco-tourism partner, Marine Dynamics / Dyer Island Cruises, who conduct shark cage diving and whale watching/eco tours around the Dyer Island ecosystem.

“We believe education is imperative if we are to help protect our marine ecosystem,” says Wilfred Chivell, CEO of Marine Dynamics. “The Hermanus Whale Festival helps us reach many people, and for some, this is the first time they are being introduced to the marine species we are privileged to work with. We congratulate the organisers on a fantastic festival this year, and well done to CapeNature on their campaign addressing trash. The boxes made a real difference to the cleanliness of the festival, and the whales were incredible this year. It was wonderful to see everyone fascinated by the whales and that is what this festival is truly about.”

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September 15, 2018

The Marine Dynamics / Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT,) together with the Overstrand Municipality partnered for International Coastal Clean Up day, doing the 1,5km stretch of rocky coastline from the Gansbaai Caravan Park towards the tidal pool. International Coastal Clean Up Day is a global movement with all trash recorded going into the South African database with PlasticsSA and the global database held by Ocean Conservancy. Various members of the public joined the clean-up, as did the DICT’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) accompanied by a few of their parents. Other groups included Laerskool Gansbaai, Gansbaai Primer, Gansbaai Academia, Grootbos, and International Marine Volunteers. In total there were 58 children and 20 adults. The Development and Planning division of the Department of Environmental Affairs kindly donated goodie bags for the DEEP children.

At the end of the clean-up there were 40 bags weighing 100,25 Kg’s. Top finds: Glass pieces 736 / Plastic pieces 517 / Straws/Sticks 314 /Cigarette butts 306. Strangest items found: Candles, Batteries, Shoe hangers, Umbrella. Pinkey Ngewu of the Trust had this to say, “Every person, every action, every bucket full of plastic removed from the beach can make the ocean a little bit healthier. Let’s love the ocean and refuse unnecessary plastic, one of the top known ocean pollutants.”

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September 06, 2018

Arbor Day is an environmental awareness day in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. Though usually observed in the spring, the date varies, depending on climate and suitable planting season. South Africa first celebrated this event in 1983 and it is now celebrated for a week in September. The event captured the imagination of people who recognised the need for raising awareness of the value of trees in our society. As sources of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of our communities. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP in partnership with Overstrand Municipality, Marine Dynamics and International Marine Volunteers participated in community "greening" event by planting trees (Wild olive and Cape ash) at the local high school, Gansbaai Academia, to improve the health and beauty of the school environment and create a green future for South Africa.

A medium-sized, evergreen tree, the wild olive (Olea europaea) is found throughout Africa, Arabia, India and China. Its sweetly scented flowers are creamy-white and appear from Spring through to Summer, followed by the small, deep purply-black fruit which when ripe are enjoyed by a host of birds and other animals.  The Wild olive tree is protected in South Africa. The Cape ash (Ekebergia capensis) is a large attractive evergreen tree and found in South Africa, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Like the Wild olive, its fruit is enjoyed by birds and mammals. Both trees will provide shade and protection from the wind.

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Humpback Whale Stranding

August 17, 2018 Meredith Thornton: Research Coordinator, Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Earlier this week the Dyer Island Conservation Trust received a call about a whale on the rocks at Skulpiesbaai, near Stanford’s Cove. Upon arriving on site our Research Coordinator, Meredith Thornton, confirmed that the whale was freshly dead, and either died at sea within the last 24 hours, or came ashore alive overnight. The team then proceeded to collect a full suite of photographs, along with numerous standardised scientific measurements. The whale was an 8.3m juvenile female humpback whale and no cause of death was apparent.

After measurements were complete, skin and blubber samples were collected, along with sub-samples of the numerous barnacles and cyamids that live on the surface of the whale. These little free-riding animals are both crustaceans. The cyamids eat whale skin, roaming all over the body with their sharp claws, but mostly live in folds and crevices around the eyes, genital slits and where the pectoral fins join the body. They also inhabit wounded or diseased areas and find shelter in areas where there are barnacles present. Barnacles and whales usually live in a commensal relationship, where the barnacles benefit by hitching a free ride to wherever the oceans are rich in plankton, upon which they feed, while the whale is unharmed. However, sometimes barnacles can proliferate to such an extent that the whale is negatively impacted and the relationship becomes parasitic.

The Overstrand Municipality responded with great efficiency and the carcass was cut into four pieces and removed to the dump by nightfall. Fortunately, this animal was small for a humpback whale, making it more manageable at about 8 tons. Adult humpback whales are usually 14-15m long, weighing approximately 40 tons! Humpback whale populations have recovered exceptionally well since whaling finally ended in the 1960’s.

Interns from the Marine Dynamics Academy assisted at the stranding and had the following to say about their experience:

“On August 14th, 2018, I saw my first beached humpback whale- and if I could choose a word to describe the experience, it would be bittersweet. When we first arrived to the rocky beach where the expired whale was stranded, I felt sadness that such a beautiful creature had passed away. However, I learned that it's important to separate emotion from scientific thought, since the death of the whale also contributes heavily to marine biology research and gives us an essential peek into the workings of life under the ocean surface. Having only specialized in human physiology and anatomy, I was initially disoriented while examining the humpback whale with Meredith. I learned many valuable skills, such as whale anatomy, measuring whales, taking samples of blubber and barnacles, and many miscellaneous facts. Halfway through the examination, and after asking many questions, which Meredith answered patiently, similarities between my knowledge of human biology and this new whale biology jumped out at me. With these revelations, a sense of awe dawned upon me. It's fascinating to me that life can take such diverse forms and yet still have biological similarities. Equally as captivating were the unique differences between life forms, making us all so different, yet still the same.“ [Clisha D'Souza]

“As upsetting as it is to see such a beautiful creature in this state on the rocks, the opportunity to get so close to a humpback whale from a scientific perspective was invaluable, and one I never imagined I would have here with Marine Dynamics. I was particularly surprised to find such an abundance of barnacles and lice living off the whale’s skin. This gave me a new appreciation for the unique and complex role these whales play within a greater ecosystem and enhanced my passion to work towards its conservation. Working with Meredith to take measurements and samples so soon after the whale’s passing was inspiring, as she demonstrated how the death of these beached animals, though tragic, are never in vain. Rather, every effort is made to give them a dignified legacy by contribution to science.“ [Anna Harrison]

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is a member of the Overstrand Stranding Network – a collaborative group of organisations that ensure as much information as possible is retrieved from every stranding, live animals are refloated or euthanised if necessary and that carcasses are disposed of safely if they come ashore in a built-up area.

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August 02, 2018

Grant has a master’s degree in critical psychology and has spent 30 years in the natural world, first as a professional field guide and then as Managing Director of The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA). He has a full national certificate in nature and culture guiding and is qualified to guide in dangerous game areas.

It is through his professional qualifications and love of the bush and more recently the marine environment, that he has developed several programmes to help us to not only reconnect with nature but also to reconnect with ourselves. If we are to survive as a species we need to learn to commune with nature rather than exploit it.

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International Plastic Bag Free Day 2018

July 03, 2018

July is plastic awareness month, aiming at combating single use plastic items. The Theme for this year is: “It’s high time to create a Plastic Bag Free World!” Tuesday 3rd July was added to the environmental calendar as International Plastic Bag Free Day (IPBFD) - dedicated to heightening awareness about the issues brought about by this most popular of disposable carrying devices. We are reminded that these bags we pick up from the retailers are used for a very short time, usually around 25 minutes, and are then disposed. They may pass out of our thinking then, but they do not pass out of our world. Plastic bags remain in the world for anywhere from 100-500 years before finally decaying completely, and have a profound impact upon our environment as a result.

Every day millions of plastic bags are being disposed. The issue is pressing and campaigns like that of Two Oceans Aquarium’s Rethink the Bag have been instrumental in encouraging stores and consumers to rather use a longer lasting environmentally friendly bag. For many years now the team at the Marine Dynamics tourism hub has been minimising plastic use, especially plastic bags, even discouraging suppliers from individually wrapping clothing items in plastic. Other initiatives include no straws, no sugar/jam/butter sachets, no plastic bottles on the shark boat and the team uses recycled newspaper bags in the curio shops.

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DEEP dive into the Two Oceans Aquarium

June 25, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust Environmental Education Programme(DEEP) second and third year intake learners visited the Two Oceans Aquarium on Wednesday, 20 June, as part of their programme. The programme focuses on the marine ecosystem.

During the course of the year the children learn about protecting and conserving the marine environment, including marine animals and rocky shores ecosystem. The visit to the aquarium aimed at showing the learners some of the marine animals that are covered in their curriculum e.g. stingrays, crabs, different shark species, fish species, jellyfish and many other species.

These learners are on their three year journey of becoming ambassadors for the ocean. The trip was an eye opener for these young ambassadors as most of them haven’t been out of Gansbaai. Seeing the big city was an amazing thing for the kids. They learned about movement of smaller animals through microscopes, which made them see the world in a different way. They asked the aquarium staff lots of questions about the marine life. Watching the feeding of stingrays was a highlight for them.

They learned about social stuff as well, using escalators, fork and knife, having the privilege to sit in a restaurant and order food of their choice. This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for South African National Lotteries who sponsored the outing and Wilfred Chivell for extra spoils and treats. Thank you to Marine Dynamics and  the International Marine Volunteers who assisted with the children.

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June 08, 2018

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) officially launched the Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling Program along the Gansbaai shoreline in 2010. This innovative project of strategically placed unique fishing line bins aims to reduce the severe environmental damage caused by discarded fishing line on our coastline. “Our marine animal rescue team has seen some of the worst injuries on seabirds, seals and sharks caused from discarded fishing line. We have to date collected probably over 5000kms of fishing line. The fishing line bin helps create public awareness about the negative impacts that fishing line debris has on marine life, water quality, and human welfare. We place bins at our local beaches and popular fishing spots encouraging anglers and beach walkers to dispose of their used fishing line. We hope to reduce the amount of fishing line entering the marine environment, as well as to increase the amount of fishing line being recycled. We also conduct regular beach clean-ups. We have strong partnerships with organisations that help the reach and management of this project,” says Trust CEO Wilfred Chivell.

The first twenty bins were placed in partnership with Overstrand Municipality in the Gansbaai area. Since then bins have been placed at various locations around the country including alongside Blue Flag beaches and is proving to be an icon for marine pollution. Since 2011, DPI Plastics has been providing material for these bins. This dedicated and critical sponsorship was arranged by John Kieser of Plastics ǀ SA.
“Monofilament fishing line is non-biodegradable and can last for hundred of years in the marine environment where it entangles wildlife, is mistakenly ingested by birds and animals, resulting in injury or death, and is also hazardous to boaters and swimmers,” says Anthea Paulsen of DPI Plastics. “DPI Plastics would like to enlarge our eco footprint and be seen as eco leaders in our industry. We look forward to the continued reach of the fishing line bin project. It can grow so much further, not only along the coastline but inland for rivers and dams where the same problems exist."

Kieser is also responsible for organising interested organisations in South Africa to take part in the International Coastal Clean Up Day that happens every September. Kieser provides all bags, gloves and data cards for this annual event as well as all clean ups that take place throughout the year. “It is important that we collate the data forming an accurate picture of marine pollution and its sources in South Africa, so we can assess and advise plastic manufacturers where required. Product design can be revised minimising waste issues. The fishing line bin has been well received along the coast and a roadshow is planned for 2019,” says Kieser.

The team got together in Gansbaai on World Oceans Day, 8th June. After enjoying a whale trip with Dyer Island Cruises that reminded all of the marine world that needs protection, some fishing line bins were built with the Trust’s environmental education group. A bin was strategically placed in Stanford’s Cove in the De Kelders in an area commonly used by fishermen.

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Laser Photogrammetry – a non-invasive tool to yield key biological information from Sharks

June 04, 2018

The latest Marine Dynamics evening started on a positive note with Dyer Island Conservation Trust Environment Educational Programme, better know as the DEEP Blue ambassadors, opening with a short presentation on what this programme means for their education and personal development. The youngest future DEEP ambassador, Munashe Mudenge, just 6 years old introduced the rest of the team with ease. The group thanked their sponsors and Pinkey Ngewu, the educator of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

The Great White House management and staff recently took to using their singing talent to start a choir. They have been practicing under the expertise of musician Anza Naude for the last three weeks. This talented team entertained everyone with Margaret Singama – Lady Africa’s: Mama Thembu’s Wedding.

This month’s guest speaker was Marine Dynamics Guiding Biologist Toby Rogers, presenting on his research concerning sharks and laser photogrammetry.

Toby Rogers studied at UK based, Bangor University, where he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology in 2016. Toby is the Academic lead of the skills-based Science Internship with the companies’ new venture, Marine Dynamics Academy.

Photogrammetry in simple terms is using still images to collect measurements of free-swimming animals. Non-invasive techniques are strived for in marine biology and the motivation behind Toby’s research was to pinpoint a technique that allows researchers to yield core biological metrics namely, size, sex and stage of sexual maturity, from sharks without having to touch the animals. These core biological metrics can then be used for management authorities when they are implementing conservation policy. Using lasers and cameras to capture measurement data from sharks provides an alternative to catching sharks.

The lasers point onto the flank of the shark, and because the distance between the two lasers is known (10cm) you can use image analysis software to scale your images and collect accurate measurements. However, it doesn’t appear to be as simple as it first might seem. It is not possible to use the software to measure from the tip of the snout to the tip of the caudal, due to the swimming behaviour of the shark. Therefore, you need to find a measurement proxy to try and predict the total length of the shark.

Typically, researchers will use a fixed point on the animal, usually the dorsal fin area. 101 catsharks (Shark Picture) that were caught as a result of by catch were used to gather detailed measurements of every body part (shark sketch), as well as identifying the sex and stage of reproductive maturity for each animal. This would then be useful for building models to predict these metrics from free swimming sharks.

To gather information about Total Length (TL), linear equations were calculated between three dorsal fin measurements and TL from the dead shark database. The strongest predictor of TL turned out to be the dorsal fin base length. Dorsal fin measurements can then be collected by using your cameras. Enter your measurement into the linear equation and your predicted TL will be produced. Since the researchers had live sharks in the tanks they were able to validate their predictions by comparing to the known total length of each shark. Results were shown to be very accurate and precise, which allowed the researchers confidence to collect finer scale measurements from the sharks in the tanks.

Laser photogrammetry has previously been used to measure whale sharks, white sharks and even Manta Rays. Therefore, they have provided further support that the technique is accurate to gather TL information. But the researchers also wanted to gain information about the sex and stage of reproductive. With sharks generally, you can determine males from females by looking for claspers where presence is male, and absence is female. However, with some juvenile male shark species, or even some of the more cryptic species it may not be as obvious. Identifying the level of reproductive maturity is a very difficult process. The team looked at using the analogy that different body parts grow at different rates during your life and applied this to the catsharks. By calculating ratios between different body parts, you can start to detect slight changes between males and females as well as mature and immature sharks.

A statistical test called Random Forest Classification Modelling, allows you to pinpoint the most important ratios that discriminate between male and females, and mature and immature individuals. To test for the accuracy of this, the measurements highlighted by the Random Forest Models were collected from the live animals in the tanks using the lasers and the camera. Ratios were calculated and applied to the model to predict the maturity level of the male sharks in the tanks. Since the team knew the maturity stage of each male in the tank, they were able to validate the model predictions. The models were able to correctly classify 79% of the immature males, and 100% of the mature males. Very good results indeed!

Next steps involve researchers to examine and determine whether the growth ratio technique will also work for other species of shark around the world and investigating the use of different camera arrays.

Thank you to all our guests supporting our Marine Evenings. We look forward to welcoming you to our next event.

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May 01, 2018

Pavs Pillay is the WWF-SA Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) manager and is involved in consumer awareness, education and communication on sustainable seafood and marine conservation. Originally hailing from Gauteng, it seems strange that marine science would be Pavitray (Pavs) Pillay’s calling, but after getting her feet wet in the sea on holiday, she subsequently submersed herself in all things ocean. Pavs has a BSC (Wits) Zoology and Archaeology, Honours & MSC (UCT): Marine Biology. She has worked in Namibia, Angola and SA on a UNDP/GEF funded marine programme and at the Marine Research Institute (UCT) as the communication and scientific officer. Pavs won the SANCOR Science Communicator of the Year award in 2010 and is noted by Mail and Guardian as one of the Young South Africans you must take to lunch.

Pavs started her talk with how she was inspired by her mother, a motivational speaker, and how her dream to become a marine biologist becoming a reality, leading to her role with WWF. She introduced the connection between blue and green and had everyone inhale and exhale three times with the reminder that most of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean (phytoplankton, chlorophyll etc). She introduced weird and wonderful marine species and then moved onto the stark reality that our oceans are massively over fished. Pavs explained the different types of fisheries and explained the damage they do in terms of bycatch. She mentioned that the hake longline industry is the most destructive in SA and that sharks are the biggest bycatch species. Following this she talked of fish stock collapses, how species such as cod in Newfoundland were so prolific that people used to 'walk on the back of' until the stock was decimated (recent survey in 2015 found 2 small cod). Something poignant she said was 'but here in SA we still have fish left' so we can act now before it’s too late. She then introduced SASSI, founded by a female marine biologist who identified the depletion of fish species and worked with traffic light system to encourage consumer behaviour. The consumer has power if enough speak up. Pavs elaborated on the example of SPAR stores that during the Easter holidays put prawns on promotion but due to consumer pressure had to remove them. Working with fisheries is critical and the Albatross was cited as an example with longliners using bird scare devices avoiding unnecessary seabird deaths. Kingklip has also moved from orange to green due to more sustainable fishing practices. Pavs ended on a positive quote from Dali Lama "if you think a small thing can't make a difference try spending the night with a mosquito". Interactive discussions followed, and shark biologist Alison Towner raised the issue of demersal longliners mine sweeping the coast decimating the small shark stocks and the octopus fisheries removing 30 tonnes of octopus from False Bay for 19 years in a row – a species that small shark species rely on. Pavs agreed that we need to act now for our sharks and that policy makers need to take swift decisions on these matters.

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Press Release: Volkswagen supports local surfing, surfers and a cleaner ocean message at the City Surf Series in Port Elizabeth

April 04, 2018 Matt Gennrich

The Volkswagen Nelson Mandela Bay Surf Pro, presented by Billabong was hosted at Pollok Beach over the long weekend in Volkswagen’s home city of Port Elizabeth. The action kicked off on Saturday, 31 March, as South Africa’s top surfers took to the waves for their heats. The three day event ended with a thrilling final on Monday, 2 April with Kai Woolf taking both the women’s and junior women’s titles, David van Zyl from Glenashley taking home the men’s title and Dillon Hendricks from Muizenberg winning the junior men’s crown.

Headline sponor Volkswagen South Africa was out in full support to cheer on the surfers, and to also give spectators a little more to focus on inbetween the sets. The Volkswagen Display activities kept families busy, while also landing a salient educational message on the health of SA’s oceans and plastic waste recycling.

Guests rode and posed for pictures on the Volkswagen Bottle Wave - handcrafted from recycled plastic bottles and waste. Together with their long standing partners in ocean marine life protection, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), Volkswagen South Africa created the bottle wave photo set to highlight the Ocean’s plastic waste crisis and to encourage spectators to think differently about plastic pollution and recycling practices. The partnership with DICT falls under the company’s Volkswagen for Good initiatives.

While parents explored the great specifications of the various Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles on display - such as the California Beach camper van, Caravelle and Transporter Crew Bus – younger spectators were given insightful lessons on how to make better use of plastic trash. For a small donation to the DICT, children could play, craft and take home plastic ocean creatures recycled out of the very plastic that threatens the ocean’s well-being.

To drive the message home, Volkswagen and DICT also joined spectators and participants in a group Clean-the-Beach initiative to help ensure the beach was cleared of any trash caused by the event. They also held an ocean awareness talk with the local children who participated in Surfing South Africa’s CSI surf classes on the final day of the event.

In addition to the Volkswagen for Good initiatives showcased at the event, the People’s Car supports the City Surf Series first and foremost to help drive local surfing and surfers forward. “Volkswagen are backing the City Surf Series for the second year in a row due to the opportunity the series presents to local Surfers; giving them the chance to score accredited World Surfing League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) points, the log that leads to a spot on the WSL’s Championship Tour,“ said Matt Genrich, General Manager of Group Communications at Volkswagen.

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March 29, 2018 Pinkey Ngewu

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education programme known as DEEP takes on a group of learners from Masakhane Primary school. In the first year they do a presentation to Marine Dynamics staff and in the second year, they present to their peers on a topic of importance. Last year marine pollution was covered and this year the topic was water conservation.

The key message around water was its scarcity and the fact that only about 3% of all earth’s water is fresh water. Most of this water is ice and only 1% of it accessible for human use. The students explained that we cannot live without water because 66% of our human body is water. People, companies, and governments have to practice water conservation by reducing water usage. The increase in population, increase in industries and agriculture and pollution contributes to water scarcity especially in times of lower rainfall.  The learners raised awareness about the water scarcity in Cape Town which is approaching Day Zero.

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March 22, 2018 Petra Neveceralova

Working with whales and protecting them was my dream since I was a little girl. I can´t say how much I am honoured to work with Dyer Island Conservation Trust as a PhD student.

I was born in the middle of Europe, in the landlocked country of Czech Republic. However, I am so lucky to have a great mom that has always supported me. In 2005 she took me on an incredible journey to Africa. For the first time I visited South Africa and the day when I celebrated my 17th birthday, I saw my first whale. It was a humpback whale, a mother with a little whale baby. I will never forget how amazed I was in the presence of the whale, and I still feel that whenever I am close to these magnificent animals.

I was very lucky to meet Mr. Wilfred Chivell in Gansbaai, a small town on the coast of Western Cape, South Africa. He was the owner and skipper of Whale Whisperer, a whale watching boat of his company Dyer Island Cruises. He invited me on his boat and for the first time I met southern right whales. Different from humpbacks in their behaviour, so friendly and relaxed in the water. I completely fell in love with these gentle giants. The moment I saw them I decided to study these whales and help protect them and conserve their environment.

Time went on and the Dyer Island Cruises company grew bigger and bigger and I volunteered for Wilfred several times. During that time I also managed to get my bachelor degree and then masters degree in general biology with the support of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, a non-profit founded by Wilfred. They provided me with data they collect during whale watching and I did some research on whale breaching and whale distribution in comparison with wind.

After I finished my masters, the question was what to do next. Nobody in the Central and Eastern Europe studied whales at that time and abroad universities were too expensive for me. But I was lucky again when I met Professor Pavel Hulva, Ph.D. from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. He is a leader of a group that studies wolf genetics and they use all data in conservation. When we met, he admitted that he always wanted to study whales. To use genetic data in conservation is an awesome modern research project with huge conservation impact – perfect for me! That was the very beginning of my PhD project that we named “Conservation genetics of southern right whale” and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Dyer Island Cruises became the most important partners.

As the PhD project is built on genetic data, we need samples from southern right whales. After certain whale behaviour like breaching, lobtailing or mating, pieces of whale skin can be found floating on the surface. This skin is perfectly suitable for the DNA extraction. Also from the whale faeces, sometimes found around the boat during whale watching, some DNA can be extracted. This is called “non invasive” sampling as the whale does not even know that we “sample” her. In cooperation with Dyer Island Cruises crew we collect all these samples and this has become one of the most effective method of getting DNA without disturbing the animals at all. As you can see, it is in high contrast with Japanese whalers, who claim that they must kill the whale for the genetic sampling and research.

In the end, what do we do with the DNA? DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is an information molecule that is present in every cell of every organism and it can be called “a plan of a life” as every protein molecule in the body is synthetized according to the DNA plan. You can obtain a variety of information from the DNA such as where the animal comes from, if it is male or female, if it has any genetic disease and you can track its parents, sibling or its offspring.

There are several goals for my PhD project. First of all, we would like to describe the population genetics of the South African right whales. Based on the population structure, we can guess the number of whales in the area, follow the gene flow and see if the same whales return to the same bays every year. Then we study immune genes - In a healthy population, it is necessary to have a certain variability among immune genes to ensure that the animals can resist any new virus or pathogen, so it is our goal to check the variability among local population. All this data will be used in conservation as the right whales went through so called “bottleneck effect”. This means that due to intensive hunting in the past several centuries their numbers dropped dramatically and this always means the drop in genetic variability, which is threatening for the population. It is important for us to know the genetic structure of our whales so we can protect them more effectively.

Thanks to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Dyer Island Cruises, important research can be done on South African right whales. Their motto “Discover and Protect” shows their dedication to the conservation and knowledge I am lucky I to work with them to protect our beloved whales in the bay.

For more information about the PhD project please go to

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March 14, 2018 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Award winning authors, Professor George Branch and his wife Margo, enthralled over 100 guests at the launch of their revised edition of Living Shores.  Their first book was published in 1981 and has been a standard reference for marine scientists and enthusiasts, but as Margo explained, “since then three key things happened – computers, digital photography and satellites; and now we can even measure continental drift.” With all the newly revealed information and climate change impacts, the book has been reworked to incorporate the many dramatic changes that our oceans and coasts have undergone over the past few decades.

Emeritus Professor George Branch started his scientific career studying limpets leading to a ground breaking paper on how limpets tend to their own garden patch. From there his keenly developed eye then looked at the different interactions he witnessed on the rocky shores and beyond. He studied invasive mussels, watched how prawns played and investigated algae and our impacts of commercial harvesting.  This led to involvement with the development of a new fisheries policy and the development of Marine Protected Areas. He met Margo at University of Cape Town and together they became the authorities on the smaller marine world. Margo is an accomplished author and illustrator with many books behind her name on topics such as marine, fynbos and mushrooms. Her passion is to instil conservation ethics by showing the wonder of the natural world.

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March 08, 2018 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Two Oceans Aquarium team recently did a road show to establish drop off points along the coastline and brief everyone on what to do should they find a stranded turtle. Guests at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary learnt what to do with a turtle and what they can do from an environmental perspective every day to help turtles and all our marine life. Key messages included not using straws, balloons, plastic bags or water bottles, cutting any circular plastic loops that could entangle animals, and correct disposal of cigarette butts, classified as one of the worst pollutants.

The team included Talitha Noble (Conservation co-ordinator and head of turtle rehab), Hayley McLellan (Environmental Campaigner and brainchild of the ‘Rethink the Bag Campaign’), Inge Adams (WWF intern at the Aquarium and Turtle Princess) and Zoku the fluffy toy (turtle mascot and cuddle buddy).

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February 28, 2018 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Wilfred Chivell and Susan Visagie from Marine Dynamics recently travelled to the remote and rugged islands off the South of New Zealand.  Driven by Wilfred’s quest to see all the penguin species of the world, he hoped to encounter the Snares, Erect Crested, Royal and Fiordland. The trip with Heritage Expeditions had some of the best weather experienced meaning they could access all islands even though they never saw the sun. Wilfred was able to tick off the four penguins on his bucket list and in fact saw ten species of penguin and 13 albatross, in all 109 bird species.

At the February marine evening at the Great White House with over 100 guests, Susan shared the outline of the journey and the experience of what it felt like being on such a trip while Wilfred shared more on the birds encountered. The islands visited included Snares, Auckland, Macquarie, Campbell, Antipodes, Bounty and Chatham. Seeing such remote and still pristine areas reminded all of the need to protect these unique habitats.

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World Wetlands Day 2018

February 02, 2018 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) met for their first lesson of the year on wetlands. World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February.

The theme for 2018 is "Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future" and the students were encouraged to reduce their school’s water bill by 10% every month to avoid water restrictions in their respective areas.

Why should we care about Wetlands?

A wetland is an area of land saturated with water either permanently or seasonally such as marshes, swamps, floodplains. Sadly, lots of wetlands have been degraded to accommodate the growing numbers of human population in the urban areas.

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January 31, 2018 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Pinkey Ngewu of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) was very excited to receive the FGASA Guide of the Year award at their recently held AGM. “The award was based on the years I have been with FGASA which is from 2006, the work I did at De Hoop Nature Reserve as an educator there running a holiday programme for children and the DICT’s Environmental Education Programme. It is a recognition for the difference I am making through education to a younger generation and it is a privilege to be recognised in this way,” said Pinkey who received a certificate and a monetary award.

Pinkey joined the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in October 2015 and assists with administration, fundraising, projects and education. Pinkey is a marine and nature guide with a diploma in Nature Conservation.

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African penguin release 27 December 2017

December 28, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

It is always an emotional moment when we send these iconic, ocean warriors back to the big blue. It is literally a process of;

Blood - They are feisty and scared when they are admitted, biting the hands that feed them is a natural response.
Sweat - Cleaning, cleaning and more scrubbing to keep the penguin hospital in tip-top shape for the penguin patients.
Tears - On the day we return them to the wide open blue space, we shed a tear, because we made a difference, we gave them a second chance.

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African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary: First 5km Fun Run!

December 21, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Ready, set, go! And the walkers and runners, dogs too, were off on the first 5km fun walk/run in aid of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS)

Based in Gansbaai, the APSS is a critical seabird rehabilitation facility with a special focus on the endangered African penguin. APSS is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust that has since 2006 been active in penguin conservation measures including a penguin nest project that replaces their natural burrows of guano. A history of guano removal for agricultural fertiliser has left the penguins exposed to the elements and predators and the nest or penguin ‘homes’ are critical to their breeding success.

This family friendly event held on the 21st December attracted just over a hundred participants. Although an untimed run, the first four men and women were recognised as was the first dog, Layla. Louw Burger was the first man to arrive with a time of 20min15. The next three were all juniors: 2nd Daniel Erasmus, 3rd Hanro Coetzee, 4th DeWet Nel. First lady, also a junior, was Suzaan van Vuuren, 2nd Jansie Smith, 3rd Talitha van Vuuren, 4th Nina Martin. Prizes included eco trips with Dyer Island Cruises and meals at the Great White House and some penguin scarves for the children. The event was kindly covered by Worcester radio bring a festive spirit to the morning.

The event held two objectives – critical fundraising and awareness of the African Penguin and its endangered status. Brenda du Toit, Public Relations, highlighted the fact that the penguins belong to all the community and that we can all play a part. As South Africa’s endemic species, the APSS strives to turn around their possible extinction by returning penguins they have saved from injuries, disease or pollution, back to their natural habitat where they can continue to breed. “As the first event, we did this on a small scale but we will make it an annual event on the calendar, and grow accordingly,” said Du Toit.  “CEO of the Dyer island Conservation Trust, Wilfred Chivell, was there to participate. This event was a long held dream for him to have as was the penguin sanctuary.”

Special thanks are extended to all participants and volunteers who gave of their time to make the morning a success. Special thanks to sponsors: Marine Dynamics; Dyer Island Cruises; Great White House; Worcester Radio; Gerhard van der Merwe who arranged financial contributions from Sterling Private Wealth, Kia Hermanus, Boxman and Hermanus Dental Practice and Gansbaai Tourism for loaning us some tables.

The APSS is open daily from 9am to 4pm with a 3pm feeding time. Coffee and curio shop onsite and entrance is free although donations are welcome.


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PRESS RELEASE: Volkswagen and Dyer Island Conservation Trust turn on the lights of Joburg’s first Lighthouse

December 04, 2017

To create awareness for the conservation efforts of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Volkswagen brought the ocean to Joburg and created the Dyer Island Inland Lighthouse – Joburg’s first lighthouse.

While lighthouses traditionally face out to sea, warning sailors of approaching land, Volkswagen created the Dyer Island Inland Lighthouse facing in the opposite direction to enlighten South Africans of the dangers of plastic waste to our oceans and its creatures.

The symbolic lighthouse was built using recycled plastic bottles, creating a spectacular light installation and went up in The Zone @Rosebank from 30 November until 3 December 2017. The purpose of the installation was to educate South Africans about the importance of conservation efforts focused on our fragile marine eco-system, just before Joburgers flock to the beaches for the Festive Season. Not only that, the lighthouse rewarded visitors who dropped plastic bottles or waste into the recycling bin by shining its lights brightly in gratitude.

The interactive installation also encouraged passers by to take a brave stand against plastic waste by taking a picture in the plastic-waste created Jellyfish Insta-booth and sharing these on social media as a commitment to our oceans. For those wanting to dive right in and support the cause - and take home a token - they could donate towards the trust at the craft table. Here local crafters turned trash into treasure by creating the marine icons of Dyer Island, like penguins and sharks, out of the very material putting their futures in danger. 

To spark conversation on social media, Volkswagen also asked South Africans to share their wishes for the world by using #VWWishForTheWorld. “Volkswagen’s wish for the world is to be at the forefront of creating a more sustainable future and we are humbled to work with passionate partners like the Dyer Island Conservation Trust who help us make this wish come true,” commented Meredith Kelly, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen South Africa, partners and supporters of Dyer Island and the ocean’s future.

The team from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust that attended included shark biologist Alison Towner, educator Pinkey Ngewu and Brenda du Toit. “This was an incredible opportunity to highlight our conservation work and draw attention to Gansbaai and our unique ecosystem. Marine pollution is top of mind at the moment especially with the current nurdle disaster - the plastic pellets that are washing up along the coastline after a spill in Durban. To be able to take this message inland is critical and we are grateful to Volkswagen for arranging this campaign. Over and above their considerable support to the Trust since 2011, Volkswagen donated R250 for every guest attending raising a further R15 000 and R3026 was raised by the donations towards the work of the local crafters,” added du Toit.

Individually we are one drop, together we are an ocean - Ryunosuke Satoro

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Marine Month Competition Winners 2017

November 20, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Marine Dynamics & Dyer Island Cruises together with their environmental project, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and with the support of conservation partner, the Overstrand Municipality, held a competition with the schools in the Cape Whale Coast area - from Kleinmond to Gansbaai - to celebrate national marine month. Marine Month held every October is a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of our oceans. 

The competition comprises of three categories for the various age groups that include colouring in, poetry and an essay or short film. Pinkey Ngewu from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust visited schools in the Overstrand area during the month of September to inform learners about the competition. The main objectives are education and awareness to students about the ocean systems, our MARINE ENVIRONMENT and the MARINE BIG 5. In the process, the team hopes to inspire the youth to take care of our oceans and our environment. Dyer Island Cruises sponsored a boat trip for the top 30 winners to provide the opportunity to see first-hand the unique Dyer Island ecosystem right on their doorstep. The group of winners headed out on Dream Catcher for a whale watching tour. To the delight of the group, the southern right whales were just outside Kleinbaai harbour. Also on this one we spotted the whale just shortly after launching from the harbour in Kleinbaai. After spending a little while with the whales the group headed past the shark cage diving boats, the Cape Fur seal colony on Geyser Rock and were awed at the variety of seabirds around Dyer Island.

Winners of the 2017 Marine Month competition:

Category 1: Colouring

1st Linamandla Loloni from Masakhane Primary School
2nd Nina Strydom from Laerskool Gansbaai
3rd Rachel Horn from Okkie Smuts Primary

Highly Commended:

Mia Lindes
Gabriella Hogan
Cayleb Jenson
Emma Privett
Joy Booysen
Naomi Mão-Chieu
Joanna Burmann
Glenwill Beyers
Hellen Ackermann
Sinothando Zenzile
Onikayo Npengu
Merichen May

Category 2: Poetry

1st Daniel Cornell from Curro
2nd Tsoanelo Haarhof from Gansbaai Primêr
3rd Lara Strydom from Laerskool Gansbaai

Highly Commended:

Athulile Shumane
Lukhanyo Ndulumbano
Andre Geerdts
Milethea Daniels
Oliver Winfield
Casandra Saayman
Jake Van Gemert

Category 3: Essay

1st Aimelize Geerdts from Gansbaai Academia
2nd Jordan Linehan from Gansbaai Academia
3rd Zikhona Ntlahla from Gansbaai Academia

Highly Commended:

Lerato Hermanus
Odwa Mntukaziwa
Caitlin van Eeden

The marine month competition in partnership with the Overstrand Municipality and sponsored by Dyer Island Cruises , the Department of Environmental Affairs & DP .

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November 06, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Overstrand Muncipality and South African Shark Conservancy are working on a project to collect nurdles in the Overstrand area as part of a larger study to investigate the distribution and movement of nurdles along the entire South African coast following a disastrous spill in the Durban Harbour.

Please help us to spread the word, clean up wherever possible and monitor our coastline!

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DICT Celebrates African Penguin Awareness Day

October 15, 2017 Dyer ISland Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust team embraced African Penguin Awareness Day with education, a penguin release and a fun concert by DICT’s environmental education group.

Pinkey Ngewu and Mervin Visagie visited the local Gansbaai primary schools where they enlightened students about the plight of this endangered species by sharing important and fun facts and teaching a special penguin dance. On Saturday, 14 October the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (a project of DICT) released four recovered penguins back into their natural home. The group was representative of all the sea-going ages. Once penguins have passed their fluffy chick stage, anything from 60 to 130 days from hatching, they become what is termed blues. This is when they have lost their fluffy feathers, are now waterproof and have a blue sheen on their feathers. Their stomach is white and they do not look much like an adult penguin with its distinctive black and white. In fact before they will look like that they still have a rather ugly ‘teenager’ phase to go through with their drab brown feather colour and splotchy white headgear.

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DEEP Goes Camping!

October 09, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust works with dedicated learners from Masakhane Primary school and runs for three years to monitor and evaluate their progress and impact Environmental Education can do to young kids.

At the end of each year learners from the first and second year go on an educational camp. This year the learners went to Wortelgat in Stanford where they spent the weekend learning about teamwork and how to care for the environment. They had a fun filled day of activities on Saturday which were focussed on team work. As a treat the learners were given an opportunity to go canoeing in the Stanford River.

This was a lifetime experience for them. We would like to thank our sponsors PlasLantic, Community Chest, Mike Gibbs, Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises and International Marine Volunteers.

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October 02, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Since 2009 the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) has been part of the eco marine tent and this year the team once again played a critical role in educating festival goers about whales, sharks and the endangered African penguin. The Trust’s corporate sponsor, Volkswagen South Africa, also stepped up to highlight marine pollution with a special light display made of recycled materials. The message was that of ‘lighting the way to cleaner beaches.’ The installation is a sneak preview of the larger light Installation coming to Gansbaai this festive season.

While many were fascinated by the lights and inspired to do similar, for some the message fell on deaf ears as many people attending the festival disregarded the many bins supplied by the municipality. This highlighted the need for continued efforts on the part of many in educating the public on the effects pollution has not only on our marine life but on people’s health as well.

Various members of the team also gave educational talks in the whale museum: Alison Towner on white shark / orca interactions; Meredith Thornton on whales; Theanette Staal on the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary and Dickie Chivell on his Shark Week filming experiences.

“The highlight for all of us was the interest taken by the children in matching shark fins, hugging Molly the fluffy penguin or learning about whales and shark eggs. It is really rewarding to see some of the young budding biologists who clearly inspired their parents,” said Brenda du Toit, Public Relations of Marine Dynamics that sponsored the space for the Trust.

Special thanks are extended to the eco-marine tent organisers, Jeanette du Toit and Linda Chivell and CapeNature for sponsoring the additional space for DICT.

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Gansbaai: International Coastal Clean-up Day

September 18, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Annually, the world unites in a coastal clean-up initiative. Data collected from this day feeds into a national and international database with Ocean Conservancy who started this global action.

This year the Dyer Island Conservation Trust partnered with Volkswagen, Marine Dynamics and Overstrand Municipality in support of International Coastal Clean Up Day. In Gansbaai, a few groups united to work in different areas. Our group of 39 including our environmental education group (DEEP) tackled the Gansbaai caravan park area, moving towards the Gansbaai tidal pool, a distance of 1.5km. Together we collected 21 bags of trash totalling 55kgs. The primary items we collected were condoms (152), straws/stirrers (892) and plastic bottle caps (554). Other high items were cigarette butts (340) and food wrappers (314). These findings are consistent with international stats on prime marine pollution offenders.  The condom problem is along our valuable coastline and is a direct action of the illegal abalone poaching in the area. It is believed the condoms are used to keep cell phones protected.

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The Tooth, the Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth

August 28, 2017 Georgia French


In late 2014 and early to mid 2015, I was lucky enough to collect data on white sharks with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and Marine Dynamics (MD). I’m working on my PhD with the University of Sussex, focussing on sexual and individual variation in white shark ecology. I’m very pleased that the first chapter of my PhD has just been published as a paper in the Journal of Fish Biology.

This paper is all about the white shark’s famous teeth, and how they change shape as they get older. Kind of like in humans, smaller white sharks are thought to have “baby teeth” – pointy in shape, which is believed to be an adaptation for gripping fish prey. When the sharks hit roughly 3m in length, they’re then thought to get their “adult teeth” which are broad in shape and believed to facilitate catching and eating marine mammals like seals and dolphins. This change in tooth shape is taken as established fact, and is accepted and quoted around the world. However, through reading several books and papers I’d found a few pieces of evidence that seemed to show that this wasn’t always the case, so I decided to look into it further.

Data Collection

The first challenge was to figure out how to get measurements of the teeth. All of the previously published work on white shark teeth was from dead sharks – I needed to come up with a method to get the same measurements from live ones. This is where DICT and MD came in. I realised that cage diving provides the perfect opportunity to get good photos of the shark’s teeth – if you look through the MD blog, you’ll see what I mean! When the sharks interact with the seal decoy or bait lure, they often either treat them like prey, or they try to check them out with their mouths (as they are lacking in the hand department, they use their mouths to see what things feel and taste like). This means that they open their mouths a lot – perfect.

I designed a method that meant that I could calculate how “pointy” the shark’s teeth were from photographs taken during cage diving trips. Being able to work from Slashfin was a huge bonus, as it’s very stable and comfortable, and has a nice high viewing deck that meant myself and colleagues could get photos from above, as the sharks came out of the water. In addition to the tooth photos, from Slashfin it was possible to estimate each shark’s length, see if it was male or female, and identify each individual so that I would know if I had measured its teeth twice. I then combined these data with published information and measurements taken from the jaw collection of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and analysed the relationships between male and female shark length and their tooth shape. The findings were pretty astounding.


It turns out that it seems like the males and females are very different when it comes to their teeth. The main results showed that male sharks do change their teeth from pointy to broad, but females don’t. In the females, I identified three different tooth shapes – pointed, intermediate and broad – and a female of any size could fit one of these categories. This suggests that there may be three “types” or morphs of female, which could be specialising on different types. Alternatively, tooth shape could actually have nothing to do with diet, and instead males could be using their broad teeth to help them hold onto females during mating. Both of these scenarios blow the classic concept of tooth shape change through a white shark’s life out of the water.

Experience and Thanks

During data collection, it was great to be able to talk to interested clients about what I was doing, and to spend time in the company of the most awesome fish in the sea was just fantastic. I was really grateful to all of the crew of Slashfin, who skilfully brought the sharks to the boat, helped me to accurately estimate the shark’s lengths and sexes and identified individual sharks that they knew.

It was also an absolute pleasure to give talks to and work with groups from International Marine Volunteers, who got valuable experience in white shark research through MD and DICT. One of these volunteers, Richard Dolan, is actually a co-author on the tooth paper as he volunteered to help individually identify the sharks in my dataset using DARWIN fin ID software – the same technique used previously by DICT scientists to make the first population estimate for white sharks in South Africa using photo ID. In fact, DICT associate David Edwards, who managed the DARWIN database for that paper, is another co-author on this research as he also helped out massively with my DARWIN work.

I’m hugely thankful to Onno Keller and Kelly Baker, MD Marine Biologists past and present, who in addition to providing me with accurate information on the sharks when we were on the boat, gave me some of their tooth photos from the trips. I also have to mention and thank Reservations Manager Aletta van Bosch for getting me onto the shark trips and of course, Wilfred Chivell, owner of Marine Dynamics and Founder of DICT, without whom none of the fieldwork would have possible.


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Launch Of ‘NICOLE’ – The True Story of a White Shark's Journey

August 23, 2017 Brenda du Toit

There was a festive atmosphere at the Marine DynamicsPenguin Random House launch of “Nicole” by author Richard Peirce. “Nicole” tells the story of the iconic great white shark that swam 22000kms from South Africa to Australia and back in less than nine months. The book also highlights the plight of white sharks worldwide especially with regards to shark finning.

Richard is a passionate conservationist and headed up the Shark Conservation Society in the UK for many years running a number of expeditions all of which achieved significant successes in securing real conservation measures. Ably supported by his wonderful wife, Jacqui, who takes many of the images you will find in Richard’s books, Richard travels widely and has seen first-hand the impact man is having on the environment and the species that we share this planet with. This drives the stories he films and writes – true stories with some creative licence to attract our attention and make us think differently. Richard always sponsors non-profits through all his books and passed on a third of the night’s sales to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust for white shark research. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has been operational since 2006 focusing on research, conservation and education initiatives with a special focus on white sharks and the endangered African penguins. Through book sales, a fun raffle and the auction of various items, R27810.00 was raised towards the charity. The evening was enhanced by wine tasting courtesy of Lomond Wine, while Richard signed copies of his books for all the shark enthusiasts. Richard also introduced his upcoming book ‘Cuddle Me, Kill Me’, a harrowing story of the lion trade. This will be released in 2018.

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Posing for Penguins

August 09, 2017 Brenda du Toit

There was preening and fluffing of feathers, not at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS), but for the ten winners of the Pose for Penguins makeover. This fundraising initiative for APSS was the brainchild of Nicolene Richards and Karin Franken and in just a couple of weeks raised an incredible R10 200 thanks to the support of the local Gansbaai residents.

The red carpet was laid out at Hair Style Studio where hairstylists, Natasha van der Berg and Elmarise van Dyk and make-up artists, Amorette Groenewald and Jeanre du Plessis worked their magic. Nicolene and Karin had as much fun styling each individual lady adding splashes of colour courtesy of Komtessa Boutique. Photographs of the before and after were captured by Sanchia Chivell. Food was provided by the Great White House, wine sponsored by Creation Wines, with gifts and Champagne sponsored by the organising duo.

“Fundraising initiatives like this go a huge way in helping the needs of the endangered African Penguin, a species whose survival depends on all of us not just those directly involved in their rescue and rehabilitation.  With an estimated 18 000 breeding pairs left and a possible extinction in the wild by 2030, we have to do everything in our power to turn this around,” said Wilfred Chivell, founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. “A very big thank you for the support of everyone especially the ladies that used their time and talents to create a successful make over day.”

Nicolene Richards supports the sanctuary in various ways and plunged right in to help the penguins, “Karen and I did what we love doing, using our passion for styling to make a difference. We are already planning our next one. Congratulations to all the winners.”

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67 Minutes for Mandela Day

July 18, 2017 67 Minutes for Mandela Day

The Marine Dynamics team thinks 67 minutes for Madiba is too short a time to do all the good that needs to be done and so makes it our way of life. When Madiba day comes along, we believe in keeping it local and where best to start than with our DEEP group. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust Environmental Education programme consists of 24 students with some in their second year and others that started their three year programme this year. We thought we would spread the love and organise some food parcels for their families.

We approached SPAR Gansbaai who came on board also donating some shopper bags to use. SPAR has been one of the leading companies promoting the Rethink the Bag campaign in South Africa and as manager of the Gansbaai SPAR said, “This is an awesome opportunity to highlight this campaign encouraging people to discontinue using plastic shopping bags.” The Rethink the Bag campaign was started by Two Oceans Aquarium and is encouraging consumer behaviour change. The Trust’s educator, Pinkey Ngewu, and other members of the team headed out on Tuesday to brighten everyone’s day.

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Shark Awareness Day 2017

July 14, 2017 Brenda du Toit

The main purpose of the annual Shark Awareness Day is exactly that – creating awareness of sharks as a critical part of our oceans.  Sharks are a large group of fish that have inhabited the oceans for over 400 million years. There are over 500 species of sharks in the ocean but here at Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, our team deals with one of the most charismatic ones, the great white shark. After four confirmed orca predations on white sharks since May, the sharks had been scarce in Gansbaai but as if knowing there was something special about the 14th July, Marine Dynamics enjoyed a good sighting of a 3m white shark.

While guests were enjoying the sighting, our shark biologist, Alison Towner, was working with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP). The group in their second year has been able to witness and touch the deceased shark and is learning more about this species throughout the programme. One of the tasks the students are challenged with is to do presentations and on this day eight of them showcased various shark species. Alison was there to encourage them and to share more about sharks.  Some shark cakes rounded off the day as did some champagne for the guests of Marine Dynamics.

1.Nicole Schutte with shark biologist, Alison Towner, showing the DEEP students the equipment used in tagging and tracking white sharks
2. 2nd year DEEP student Aphelele Jordaan

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Sperm Whale Washes Up In Gansbaai

July 03, 2017 Brenda du Toit

A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) recently washed up in the Pearly Beach area of Gansbaai. As a deep water whale found in most of the world's ocean, they are not often seen close to shore so this carcass provides a rare opportunity for scientific sampling which is what the Marine Dynamics / Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) team arranged. The whale is in a fairly decayed state.

Sperm whales generally measure about 17m but some up to 20m have been recorded. During the days of commercial whaling, sperm whales were caught off both our east and west coasts – they were so named because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance, and the whalers thought the large square head was a huge reservoir for sperm. It is in fact spermaceti oil, thought to help in buoyancy control when diving and acts as an acoustic lens. Additionally, an intestinal secretion called ambergris is found in sperm whales which is used in the perfume industry.

“This is the third sperm whale that has washed up in the Gansbaai area in the last four years which is amazing because we don’t know where they come from. We have DNA samples of all three and will have it analysed and see what further information we can find out,” says Wilfred Chivell of DICT.

The sperm whale belongs to the suborder of toothed whales and dolphins (odontocetes) and is one easily identified by its bushy, angular blow as it has a single blowhole right at the front of the head, on the left.  They have between 36-60 conical teeth in their long, narrow lower jaw – in adult males these can grow to 25cm long and weigh 1kg each, although only a third of the tooth appears above the gum. The sperm whale has relatively short, stubby flippers and a low hump instead of a dorsal fin, and triangular tail flukes, which are raised when diving.

The sperm whale is one of the deepest diving mammals in the world. Typically it makes dives of up to 400 m, but can reach depths of up to 2-3km. It is thought to be able to hold its breath for up to two hours, although 45 minutes is the average dive time. Some sperm whales have scars on their bodies caused by rare encounters with feisty giant squid.. Although sperm whales are known to eat a wide variety of sea creatures their major prey items are deep-water squid of less than 3kg in weight. A sperm whale spends most of its life in either 'nursery schools' (adult females with young) or 'bachelor schools' (males between seven and 27 years of age) although older males tend to live on their own or in very small groups and join nursery schools during the breeding season. The only natural predator of the sperm whale is the orca and even then most attacks are not thought to be fatal.

Sperm whales are protected from commercial whaling but modern threats are  ship strikes, injury due to human interactions when they steal fish from longliners, chemical and noise pollution and entanglement in fishing nets, especially ghost gear. The current worldwide population is not known and the conservation status of the sperm whale is listed as Vulnerable (IUCN 2008).

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DICT Environmental Programe June Rundown

June 30, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

June was an eventful month for the DEEP group. On the 8th we celebrated World Oceans Day and Youth day on the 16th of June.

June 08 – World Oceans Day

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International Great White Shark Research Team Work With Dyer Island Conservation Trust

June 15, 2017 Brenda du Toit

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics team were recently joined by past Master’s students, Oliver and Michelle Jewell, to continue Oliver’s studies on great white sharks.

Oliver is a PhD candidate affiliated with Murdoch University. Oliver is looking at the foraging and swimming patterns of great white sharks by observing body movements and tail beats using camera loggers attached with a special clamping system. The team included Oliver’s supervisors Dr Adrian Gleiss (Murdoch University) and Dr Taylor Chappell (UC Davis); and a research and film crew from Monterey Bay Aquarium – Dr Salvador Jorgenson, Presley Adamson and Paul Kanive. Further support was given by past employee of the Trust, David ‘Ed’ Edwards and his partner Anna Phillips. Ed assisted with the white shark population study the Trust released in 2013.

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Great White Shark vs Orca May 2017

June 08, 2017 Brenda du Toit

May 2017 was an interesting yet trying time for the team of Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust who were called out to retrieve three deceased white sharks in a space of a few days – a female of 4,9m and two males at 3,6 and 4,5m. All three sharks have been identified from our extensive database.

Our shark biologists, Alison Towner and Kelly Baker assisted by our team and experts in their field including Dr Malcolm Smale, and with the permission of the Department of Environmental Affairs did the dissections on site in Gansbaai. All three sharks had consistent bite wounds and were found to be missing their livers. This indicates what is known of orca predation on sharks as they attack and stun the shark into tonic immobility and the buoyant liver rises to the surface through the injury. The squalene rich liver is the only part that the orca’s appear interested in although the one male shark was also missing a heart. This is the first time ever that a white shark has been dissected after an orca predation and this is the first official observation in South Africa stunning researchers and shark lovers.

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SouSA - Whale and Dolphin Research

June 05, 2017 Meredith Thornton

As the winter chills set upon us in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate two important days this week - today is World Environment Day, which is all about getting outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and to be fully conscious of its importance; Thursday is World Oceans Day which is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future for us all.  This year’s theme is Our Oceans, Our Future and the conservation action focus is Encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future.

Grab your friends and colleagues, kick off your shoes and hit the coastline this week, preferably with a garbage bag in hand to do your bit for the planet today!  Let us know what you decided to do, and how it went. Remember Your Choice makes a Difference #WithNature #worldoceansday

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PAAZA Conference 2017 - Conservation Award

May 31, 2017 Brenda du Toit

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) was excited to receive the PAAZA Conservation Award dedicated to our founder, Wilfred Chivell. The Conservation Award is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the conservation of African species diversity or ecosystems.

DICT is a conservation partner of PAAZA – the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. PAAZA’s mission is to guide and accredit all African Zoos and Aquaria to become effective and credible centres of animal welfare, conservation, education and research.

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Educational Manual for DEEP

May 22, 2017 Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Dyer Island Conservation Trust Invests in Local Community

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP works with dedicated groups of young learners from a disadvantaged background and runs for three years to monitor and evaluate the impact and growth of each and every individual learner. An educational manual, a first for the non-profit, was launched at a function held at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, another key project of the Trust. The manual was put together by Trust educator, Pinkey Ngewu, drawing on valuable resources from various conservation partners. “Our aim is to expose these young learners to the field of science and conservation and serve as a forerunner for future skills training,” said Pinkey. At the beginning of each year, a new group of students start their three year programme. The educational manual will be used for the students in their second year. The function was attended by sponsors, conservation organisations and members of the Overstrand Municipality with an opening note by Councillor David Botha who elaborated on the environment and its importance.

The two groups of students showed off their knowledge with a presentation on the Marine Big 5 and marine pollution and ended off the event with some passionate singing. Pinkey said, “I have been honoured to be part of this life changing programme since 2016, I believe we are making a difference in not only the lives of the students but of the entire community by creating ambassadors for tomorrow. The DEEP teaches the youth invaluable lessons about themselves and their surroundings. It builds inside them a love for nature. With the environmental crisis we are facing, it is very important to educate the future of tomorrow today and rebuild the connection with man and nature. It takes the entire community to raise a child, so let us work together in raising these blue ambassadors for our environment.”

The printing of the manual was been made possible by: Cape300 Foundation and the Community Chest.

Other valuable sponsors/partners include:

Trust founder, Wilfred Chivell, added, “We truly believe that this long term effort will ensure that these young ambassadors protect our environmental heritage.”


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Become a “Supportive Shopper”

April 11, 2017 Trudi Malan

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is excited to present you with the opportunity to become a “Supportive Shopper”.

We have joined one of the biggest fundraising families in the country, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, program that forms part of the Woolworths Group.

This program allows shoppers the wonderful opportunity to support the Dyer Island Conservation Trust through, yes SHOPPING. Every time you shop and swipe at any of the partner stores, you are supporting our cause.

Imagine that – making a difference while you shop. We call that supportive shopping.

How does MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet work?

You apply for a free MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card by registering online, or you can get a card at your local Woolworths store. You can link it directly to your Woolworths card so that you don't have to swipe twice! 

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Marine Evening: White Sharks of Gansbaai

March 29, 2017 Brenda du Toit

The waters of Gansbaai are believed to have one of the of White sharks in the world. With the opportunity to see this shark all year round, and the proximity to land making it one of the most accessible places in the world to do so, Gansbaai is on the top of many tourists list's to visit in the hopes of catching a glimpse of this animal. These factors also allow for critical studies to be undertaken on this legendary but little known about shark species. The nearly daily trips run allow a platform to consistently conduct crucial observational studies, collect photo-identification and measure environmental parameters leading to a better understanding of the white shark as the simple fact is, to date, knowledge is limited concerning this animal, including vulnerability status and we cannot possibly hope to protect, conserve and provide a realistic image on something we know so little about.

It was with this in mind, that Marine Dynamics’s biologist, Kelly Baker, shared her observations of three years on board Slashfin. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Biological Science from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. Her long term daily observational data is adding extensively to the current database on file for the Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust team. Her main areas of focus include determining the size and thus growth rates of the sharks that visit and revisit the area; documenting wounds, healing and scars and the identification of individuals using the dorsal fin - in turn monitoring the population as a whole.

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Penguins Loved By La Pentola

March 07, 2017 Brenda du Toit

One of our favourite supporters, Shane Sauvage, of the famous restaurant, La Pentola visited the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) leaving behind a legacy of R10 000.00

Shane has been a staunch supporter of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust for some years now with a special fondness for our great white shark research. The Trust and  shark biologist, Alison Towner, was even featured in his most recent book, Cape Fusion. In April 2015, Shane was the guest chef at a special fundraising evening and even donated a special cooking evening. Shane brought his family to visit the penguins and his youngest, Marina, was in awe. “The Trust is truly grateful for this fantastic donation which will go towards the continued rehabilitation work with the endangered African penguins. The APSS has been opened for just two years and is making an important impact on the local penguin population of Dyer Island.  It is not possible for us to do this work without the continued support of the public. The penguins are the responsibility of all of us and we can all help make a difference,” says Theanette Staal, manager and veterinary nurse at APSS.

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South Africa's most endangered dolphin needs your help!

March 02, 2017 Meredith Thornton & Sandra Hoerbst

At the Dyer Island Conservation Trust we are lucky to have one of South Africa’s lesser-known species of dolphin occurring right here in the Greater Dyer Island Area.  This is a shy and somewhat elusive species called the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin.  Their species, or Latin, name is Sousa plumbea and they are officially classified as endangered in South African waters.

There are probably less than 10 000 in the world and most likely only a few hundred left in South Africa!  This very small population size means that they are South Africa’s most endangered dolphin and are thus in need of increased protection and continued monitoring.  They live close inshore, usually in waters less than 20m deep, and are often found around river mouths, like the Uilkraal estuary.

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African Penguin Release 23 Feb 2016 | African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

February 23, 2017 Theanette Staal

Four adult penguins named Siân, Dippy, Patat and Mr Penguin Infanta were released today from Dream Catcher, Dyer Island Cruises' vessel, in the bay near Dyer Island where these penguins will now continue to live following their annual moult.

They say a leopard can’t change its spots.  Well…penguins can’t change their spots either, but they do change their feathers every year during an annual moult when they shed all their old feathers to be replaced by new feathers.  As the new feathers are not yet waterproof, a process which takes about 20 days, the penguins are unable to swim and cannot hunt for food.

Prior to their annual moult, penguins bulk-feed to build up fat reserves to sustain them during their moulting period.  If a penguin is unable to gain sufficient weight, the moulting process may be halted.  As the old feathers have by now become dried out and brown and are not waterproof anymore, these penguins cannot return to sea and will eventually starve to death on the shore.

However, when an “arrested moulter” arrives at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, we can help kick-start the moulting process again through rehydration, a good supply of pilchards, additional supplements and patience.

Once these penguins have completed their moult, regained their waterproofing, reached a good weight and are healthy, they are released back into the wild.

The rescue and release of adult African penguins is a conservation triumph. To grow the African penguin population, we need to protect the adult birds. They need to go forth and multiply. Conservation efforts must be focused on repairing their habitat, preventing disaster like oil spills and disease outbreaks and acting fast to rescue adult African penguins in trouble.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, through the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary is committed to making a difference. For us, conservation is about more than rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is needed because #EveryBirdCounts, but it is but one small step in the journey to rebuild the population.

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Today we celebrate World Whale Day! So why whales and why today?

February 17, 2017 Meredith Thornton

Well, the annual celebration was founded in 1980 in Maui, Hawaii, in order to honour humpback whales, which are found in big numbers just off its coast. Whale Day is the main showcase of the Maui Whale Festival.  Crowds stream to the island every year on this day to join in the free event which is organised by the Pacific Whale Foundation. They have a lot of fun, with a float parade with lots of costumed characters and activities for children and musical events from both Hawaiian and international stars.

Whales have evoked a range of emotions, actions and debates throughout the history of mankind.  Many people view whales as a resource for food, oil, whale bone, fishmeal and other whale products, and in fact the industrial revolution would not have been possible without the oil from whales…so (sadly) we have whales to thank for our modern existence.

However, man is a greedy species and we were unfortunately overzealous in the numbers of whales that we killed…nearly decimating our blue, southern right and humpback whale populations.  Whaling was declared illegal in the 1930’s but pirate whaling still continued until the 1960’s when it was finally stopped in South African for good.  Nowadays, instead of this uncontrolled situation, we utilise our whales sustainably through a well-regulated boat-based whale-watching industry as well as aerial and shore-based whale-watching tourism.  As South Africans we can be proud of how well this resource is managed.

World-wide there are about 90 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises and in South Africa alone we have nearly 40 of these of these!  Many of our whales are seldom seen at sea because they are shy, or they occur in much deeper waters off the continental shelf, which means that some species of whales are only really known from strandings, when they wash out along our shore, dead or alive.

The reasons for these strandings are many and varied and are most likely a combination of a couple of factors.  As humans we always want to know exactly why things happen, but when it comes to whale strandings we usually have to resign ourselves to the fact that we may never know for sure why the animal died.

Here in the greater Dyer Island area we are fortunate to have whales visiting our waters all year round.  We have humpback and southern rights during autumn-spring and even deep into the summer months, depending on the prevailing environmental conditions, but we also have a more secretive giant, the Bryde’s whale, which is present all year round, feeding on locally abundant shoaling fish, like sardines and anchovy.  Several times a year we also see dead stranded whales like pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, beaked and pilot whales.

If you ever come across a stranded animal please call us immediately on 072 598 7117 and tell us the locality, if the animal is dead or alive, the size of the animal (pace it out) and please take some photographs of the head and the overall body from the side.  We will go out and attend to the stranded animal, helping it if at all possible, and to collect important scientific information that goes to universities, museum and government departments.

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A Token of Appreciation

February 17, 2017 Pinkey Ngewu

After DICT and APSS received a generous donation of R6000.00 from the eager students of Okkie Smuts Primary School in Stanford, the day has finally arrived to take them on a marine adventure with Dyer Island Cruises.

This will be a token of appreciation for the generous and great work they are doing towards saving the endangered African penguin. The school principal Mr Koekemoer with the support of the teacher Mrs Marna Beets and the learners started a coin project as part of the school’s social development programme. It was such an excitement of the learners when they created 2 penguins with coins on the ground. The learners enjoyed the outing and sightings of African penguins swimming and the Cape Fur seals. They were fascinated by the sound the seals make and started imitating them.

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Deceased white shark at Pearly Beach, Gansbaai

February 09, 2017 Alison Towner

At 7 am this morning a deceased white shark Carcharodon carcharias was reported to us at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust by Anton Barnard in Pearly Beach. Marine Dynamics biologist Kelly Baker, the International Marine Volunteers and our staff assisted to retrieve the animal with our Samel vehicle. From external observations we can confirm the juvenile shark is a 2.63m (total length) specimen, a young female. She had no obvious signs of trauma however after washing the sand off her at the International Marine Volunteers lodge, with additional input from Dr Alison Kock of Shark Spotters, we observed measured and photographed any potentially interesting markings.

There will no doubt be speculation that Orcinus orca is responsible for this mortality as only yesterday we documented the two male Orca in the area. The fact is we cannot confirm this, it could also just be a coincidence. The autopsy of this shark will take place at Department of Environmental Affairs and will hopefully reveal more about the cause of death, which at this stage is very much inconclusive. Professor Susan Dippenar from University of Limpopo was on site with us and was able to sample live parasitic copepods from the sharks mouth-an indication that this animal had likely washed up recently before found. Interestingly the stranding site is where we have retrieved two dead whale shark Rhincodon typus carcasses in the past. It is an area known for strong currents.


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International Marine Volunteers help with Ragged tooth shark dissection

February 01, 2017 Alison Towner

By Alison Towner
Marine Biologist, Dyer Island Conservation Trust

On the 31st of January we had a rare opportunity to dissect a Ragged Tooth shark, Carcharias taurus. The shark had washed up dead in Franskraal earlier in the month and was collected by Wilfred Chivell to be frozen and dissected at the International Marine Volunteer (IMV) lodge. The specimen was a 2.56m mature male. Externally he looked healthy, but there was a small knife wound to his head and an injury on the side of his mouth- possibly from a hook. His liver was in good condition and unmarked showing no signs of disease or malnutrition. When we opened his stomach he had clearly fed well, there was a Red roman, and possibly a hake and Strepie inside, as well as a baitfish bag and two metal fishing hooks with wire still attached.

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African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary Penguin Release

December 17, 2016 Trudy Malan

On Monday, 12 December 2016, we released a crèche of African penguin fledglings on Dyer Island.

Rearing and releasing African penguin chicks is always an emotional journey full of fluff (literally) and proud “parental” moments. From the first swim, when they frantically flap their flippers as if they were not made for swimming, to the independent “whatever” teenager attitude when they are ready to leave. The conservation intervention of rearing abandoned chicks is necessary to arrest the further implosion of the population. It is however a costly and labour intensive exercise, with unknown outcomes. The fledgling penguins will, like any youngster, explore their options before they settle with a partner and start breeding, hopefully bolstering the natal colony where they were removed from. This process of “finding their flippers” can take from four to six years. It is a great move towards a “kick starter campaign” but we need to add more than a drop of maturity to the mix.

Adult Penguin Release, 17 December 2016

Therefore, the rescue and release of adult African penguins is a conservation triumph. To grow the African penguin population, we need to protect the adult birds. They need to go forth and multiply. Conservation efforts must be focused on repairing their habitat, preventing disaster like oil spills and disease outbreaks and acting fast to rescue adult African penguins in trouble.
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, through the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary is committed to making a difference. For us, conservation is about more than rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is needed because #EveryBirdCounts, but it is but one small step in the journey to rebuild the population.

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” ― Mother Teresa

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An Expedition to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands

November 30, 2016 Brenda du Toit

Wilfred Chivell and Susan Visagie recently travelled to the spectacular isles of the South Atlantics for an adventure of a lifetime! At the most recent Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust Marine Evening, Wilfred shared some of the images and moments of a very special trip. The Great White House was packed and everyone was keen to hear more about South Georgia and the Falkland Islands which form part of a marine protected area near South America and the Antarctic’s.

The trip was undertaken on board Sea Spirit guided by Doug and Dale from Cheesemans Ecology Safaris, experts in their field with over 35 years’ experience.

While Wilfred admits he is not one for visiting graves he was very interested to see that of explorer, Sir Ernest Shackelton.  Shackleton led three expeditions to the Antarctic. It was on his third that his ship, Endurance, was trapped in pack ice and subsequently crushed. The crew used the lifeboats to reach Elephant Island and the inhabited island of South Georgia. This distance of 720 nautical miles was covered during a terrible storm and is almost unbelievable to Wilfred that he made it. Wilfred saw first-hand how strong the wind and sea could be while out on the boat Sea Spirit so his admiration for Shackleton is now even stronger. In 1921, Shackleton returned to the Antarctic  but died of a heart attack while his ship was moored in South Georgia. At his wife's request he was buried there.

Something that struck Wilfred was that the area was pristine with no plastic or pollution in sight, a true place of wilderness. With majestic landscapes and flourishing marine wildlife he finally spotted some Southern right whale dolphins. Wilfred has travelled to many places to view one of the species he loves most, the penguin. In this expedition, including sightings in Chile, he was able to see six penguin species – the Chinstrap, King, Rockhopper, Gentoo, Macaroni and Humpboldt.

Wilfred shared some of his pictures, but with some 12 000 to go through he called upon visiting marine guide Judith Scott, herself having been on such an expedition, to incorporate  some of her photos too. All in all it made for an interesting evening.

(Should you wish to be on the marine evening mailing list, please send your details to

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Schools Donate to The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

November 28, 2016 Pinkey Ngewu


DICT was once again invited by Okkie Smuts Primary school in Stanford to receive a donation on behalf of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary - APSS. As part of the school’s social development programme, the principal and learners started a coin project to assist the endangered African penguin. The school raised a total amount of R5500.00, with the grade 3 classes being on top of their game and raising more than R2500. It was such a pleasure to witness the excitement of the learners as they created a penguin with coins on the ground. We are truly grateful to the school principal and teachers initiating the project and the learners for their dedication and love for penguins.

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November 26, 2016 Pinkey Ngewu

It has been a successful, fun filled and educational year for the DICT Environmental Education Programme (DEEP BLUE). We covered 22 lessons and 3 outings for the year. In celebration of the amazing year and to reward the group for their hard work, dedication, commitment, passion and love for their environment, we took the learners to the Two Ocean’s Aquarium in Cape Town for an informative and exciting day out. They were in awe with the marine life they saw at the aquarium. They had fun in the city and were excited to see Table Mountain.

The day ended with lunch at the V&A Waterfront’s Spur. A BIG thank you to Wilfred Chivell, Marine Dynamics; Mike Gibbs, Overstrand Municipality and the International Marine Volunteers for making this outing a possibility for these young marine stewards.

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African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary Welcomes New Manager

November 21, 2016 Brenda du Toit

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is pleased to welcome Theanette Staal to the team. Theanette will take on the role of Manager at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.

Theanette has a BA in Political Science but realised her true calling was with animals. After obtaining a certificate in field guiding she went on to gain a University diploma in Veterinary Nursing and is a registered veterinary nurse with the SA Vet Council. Theanette also studied for a certificate in Osteoarthritis management in small animals (Incl. Physical Rehabilitation). Theanette has had a varied career from guiding overland trips and working at a ski resort in the USA to working as a night sister in the UK, and night ICU sister at Onderstepoort . She has physical rehabilitation experience having worked at a small animal rehabilitation clinic.

Theanette’s last position was at the Donkey Sanctuary in McGregor as donkey care manager where she also co-presented "animal welfare assessment" workshops to animal welfare, law enforcement and donkey rescue organisations.

Theanette is just as excited to be working at APSS, “I grew up with a love and respect for nature and enjoyed some overland guiding for a while. I always loved animals and had a special bond with them, but especially with penguins and donkeys. Since working with penguins for the first time in 2007 at Penguins Eastern Cape, it's been a dream to have the opportunity to work with them in a permanent capacity. My main vision has always been to "Make a difference" through whatever I do, wherever I am.”

Theanette had perfect timing and arrived at the same time as the abandoned African penguin chicks off Dyer Island. As the adult penguins go into their annual molt and are unable to feed their late bred chicks, we take over that job for them. It is critical we are able to feed and strengthen these penguin chicks to be able to release them back on Dyer Island to become the next breeding generation. With a brood of over 50 penguins to look after at the moment, Theanette has been full steam ahead. Trudi Malan who has been working at the sanctuary will continue to represent the Trust at penguin forums.

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary is open every day with feeding times of 9h00 and 15h00 that can be observed. Coffee shop and curio shop on site.  Penguin rescue line: 0725987117

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Chick Season at the Afican Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

November 16, 2016 Anwynn Louw

It’s that time of the year again. The APSS team in conjunction with CapeNature removed abandoned penguin chicks from Dyer Island. So, why take penguin chicks away from the island? Well each year the African penguin goes through a molting process, which takes place after the breeding season.

Molting is a phase whereby adult penguins shed old feathers. As the new feathers are not yet waterproof, a process which takes about 20 days, the penguins are unable to swim and cannot hunt for food. If there has is an overlap of breeding and the molting process starting , the adult penguins abandon their chicks, before they are fully fledged. These chicks would perish due to starvation. With the population considered endangered, every bird counts, and so we step in to feed and strengthen these chicks to help rebuild the population. Once they have reached the required weight and ready for the big blue we release them back on Dyer Island.

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Southern Right Whale Annual Aerial Survey

November 01, 2016 Meredith Thornton

All across the Southern Hemisphere southern right whales were whaled almost to extinction in the 1700-1900s. It was originally thought that there were as many as 70 000-80 000 animals in total and it is believed that their numbers were reduced to less than 500 individuals!  Fortunately southern right whales were protected internationally in 1935, but pirate whaling still took place until the 1960s.  South African right whales have recovered well, increasing at about 7.5% per year and there are now thought to be about 5000 animals in our population, although historically there were probably 15 000-17 000, so we still have a long way to go!

The South African population has been studied extensively since the 1970s, primarily by the late Professor Peter Best, through various research projects such as aerial counts, individual photographic identification using natural markings from the air and at sea, photogrammetry, theodolite tracking, stable isotope analysis, genetics, fatty acid analysis and satellite telemetry.

As a result of South African right whale numbers being so low Prof. Best decided to start annual aerial surveys in 1971.  Initially a fixed wing aeroplane was used to count the animals and then 38 years ago annual photographic surveys were started using a helicopter to hover above the cow-calf pairs and take ID shots of the unique pattern of callosities on the whales’ heads.  Each individual whale is entered into the South African catalogue and is used for analysis, producing facts and figures on calving intervals, rate of population increase, age at first breeding, population counts, geographic distribution etc.

A decline in the number of southern right whales visiting South Africa, was at first noticed a couple of years ago in the non-calving animals along the coast and now this year in the reduced number of cow-calf pairs.  This might be a cause for concern, or may simply be in response to a temporary environmental variable such as a food shortage as a result of changes in oceanographic conditions, alternatively an environmental variable could have meant that more animals than normal calved in 2014, which was a bumper year, meaning that less would choose to breed in their ‘normal’ year.  Southern right whales are thought to be pregnant one year, calve the following year and rest for a year.

In recent years cow-calf pairs have numbered in the region of 200, but this year less than 60 pairs were encountered on the aerial survey.  This result was both surprising and interesting because as always in science we have a greater number of questions than answers!  A count of a similar total was last made in about 1990.

Meredith Thornton, Research Coordinator for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Research Associate of the Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria), worked closely with Prof. Best at the Mammal Research Institute, and has been intimately involved in this work for over two decades.  The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has always played an important role in assisting the MRI aerial survey team with logistics when they stop over in the Gansbaai area and this role has been formalised and consolidated with Meredith’s move to the Trust and her continued involvement with the aerial survey and other MRI/DICT research projects.

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Marine Month Competition

November 01, 2016 Pinkey Ngewu


Dyer Island Conservation Trust in partnership with CapeNature and the Overstrand Municipality ran a competition with the schools in the Overberg area, from Hawston to Gansbaai. October month was a national marine month.

This competition ran in three different categories with exciting prizes!


Colouring competition – Grade 1 till Grade 3
Poetry competition – Grade 4 till Grade 7
Essay competition – Grade 8 till Grade 11

The learners wrote a poem / essay about our oceans - impact of pollution – the marine BIG 5 - Ways how we can take care of the oceans.
They used their imagination!! Did research and used facts! They went crazy!!

Colouring  :                     1st Ntsako Sithole from Curro
                                      2nd Rachel Horn from Okkie Smuts
                                      3rd  Ronja Conrad from Okkie Smuts

Poetry :                           1st Kaylin Robertson from Gansbaai Primer
                                       2nd Meaghan McLachlan from Hermanus Primary
                                       3rd Nevellia October from Laerskool Gansbaai

Essay  :                           1st Aimelize Geerdts from Gansbaai Academia
                                       2nd Odwa Mntakaziwa from Gansbaai Academia

Special Commendation
Humour :                         Tsoanelo Haarhof from Gansbaai Primer
                                       Dederei Johnson from Mount Pleasant

Outstanding effort :           Lara Strydom from Laerskool Gansbaai

This competition aimed at enhancing the learners to understand the ocean systems, create awareness about our MARINE ENVIRONMENT, the MARINE BIG 5 and in the process inspiring them to take care of our oceans. Dyer Island Cruises sponsored a boat trip as a huge prize for the top 30 winners. CapeNature, Overstrand Municipality and DEA’s Marine and Coastal Management sponsored goodie bags containing caps, notebooks, stationary sets, lunchboxes and waterbottles. Mike Gibbs the funder of the DEEP BLUE ambassador programme and Mr Stephen Walker, local resident of Kleinbaai sponsored the first three runner ups of the competition with shopping vouchers from Spar supermarket. The response was great especially from Primary schools and the kids had a magical marine safari.

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DICT Environmental Education Programme Camp

October 11, 2016 Pinkey Ngewu

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has always been involved with local school groups and earlier this year we launched project “DEEP” (DICT Environmental Education Programme). DEEP envisions that environment education should reach all children before the age of 12 years in order to ensure that the ethos of conservation and respect for nature will become second nature for them. The programme runs for 3 years so as to monitor and evaluate the impact and growth of each and every individual learner. The aim is to expose these young learners to the field of science and conservation and to help them realize that if they continue their education, they can do anything they put their minds to!

The first ever DEEP camp took place over the weekend of the 7th-9th October with our group of 13 learners from Masakhane Primary School. Pinkey Ngewu from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust did a recap of the programme and facilitated a variety of marine lessons. The DEEP group also visited Potberg at De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve to learn about the important ecosystems in our area, namely fynbos and marine ecosystems. The second day’s lesson took place at De Hoop Vlei where the group went on a guided walk along the De Hoop vlei which is a Ramsar site and Koppie Alleen where they did some whale watching. Pinkey also focused on rock pool education and shared information on the animals they looked at, their habits and what makes them special and the kids had some fun making sand animals with Georgina. The last activity of the day was facilitated by Rebecca. A game of Marine Animals Charades!

The camp was the highlight for the kids. A special thanks to sponsor Mike Gibbs for making it a possibility for these kids to have an opportunity to experience life and also a special thanks to the Great White House for preparing a meal for our first night. We would also like to thank CapeNature for the sponsored accommodation. Rebecca Dames from Grootbos Foundation and Georgina Pendell, a visiting marine biologist assisting the Dyer island Conservation Trust, who also joined in all the fun and we thank them for their enthusiastic involvement, assisting with the lessons and games.

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Whale Festival 2016

October 04, 2016 Anwynn Louw

The Hermanus whale festival started 25 years ago. Residents and visitors from all over the world visit the coastal town of Hermanus to see the Southern Right whales and other marine wildlife. This festival focuses on ocean-themed activities, exhibitions and fun for all ages. It is the only eco-marine festival in South Africa.

Dyer Island Conservation Trust stand was in the Eco tent at this year's Whale Festival which took place over the weekend of 30 September - 02 October 2016.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust operates largely due to the support of three Fair Trade Tourism labelled companies, Marine DynamicsDyer Island Cruises and International Marine Volunteers.

We also teamed up with BTats Temporary tattoos, offering airbrush tattoos.

Heaps of festival goers got to learn about our seabird rehabilitation centre, the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary – APSS. Our knowledgeable members and staff also shared information about our conservation and research projects, interesting facts about whale behaviour, how to match ID photographs of great white sharks and educated visitors about our artificial penguin nest and fishing line bin projects.

Other entertainment also included live broadcasts by KFM radio, live performances, food and wine, craft markets, kiddies activities and of course the main attraction of the weekend, the beautiful Southern Right whale.

Watch our Hermanus Whale Festival highlites here

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September 26, 2016 Brenda du Toit

Passionate conservationist and accomplished speaker, Gibbs Kuguru was the recent speaker at the Marine Dynamics marine evening on the 27th September.

Gibbs Kuguru is a final year candidate for his MSc in Genetics from Stellenbosch University. His research is primarily focused on the smooth hammerhead sharks in South Africa, but he has also worked with other sharks for fisheries management purposes. He came to South Africa four years ago and worked in the cage diving industry for 2.5 years in Mossel Bay with White Shark Africa. There he was introduced to sharks for the first time and hasn't stopped pursuing them since.

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International Coastal Clean Up Day 17 September 2016

September 17, 2016 Brenda du Toit


Every year the world unites in a coastal clean-up initiative. Data collected from this day feeds into a national and international database with Ocean Conservancy who started this global action.

This year in Gansbaai, a few groups united to work three different areas: the Uilenskraal estuary bridge, Gansbaai caravan park area in the harbour, and Stanford Cove. Dyer Island Conservation Trust with the Masakhane DEEP group, the International Marine Volunteers, Overstrand Municipality and Gansbaai Tourism together collected 22 bags of trash totalling 115.9kgs. The primary items we collected were glass and plastic. With an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, that comes as no surprise. Hundreds of thousands of marine creatures die every year from plastic entanglement and these are the ones found. At least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.

What can you do: Stop using single use plastic TODAY. Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions. Make a pledge to actively try to take your own bags to the shop when you set out on your next shopping adventure. Your small act will make a difference.

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Arbor Week 2016 - Trees For Life

September 13, 2016 Brenda du Toit

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) went tree planting in the Franskraal Milkwood Forest for Arbor Day. Benjamin Kondokter of the Overstrand Municipality arranged the four white milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) trees which were planted by the group.  The milkwood is a protected tree in South Africa and this area in Franskraal has space where these trees can be planted.

South Africa celebrates Arbor Week in the first week of September annually. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as the custodian of forestry in South Africa, is responsible for the campaign. This is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management.

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Marine Evening: Turtle Talk

August 31, 2016 Meredith Thornton

At the latest Marine Evening held by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, the Great White House had a full house of conservation-minded people gathered to listen to fascinating stories and information shared with us by Maryke Musson, curator of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town.

Maryke’s relationship with the Aquarium goes back as far as 1993 when she was involved as a young student during the building of their beautiful displays.  Then, 22 years later, she joined their ranks again to lead a team of dedicated ocean-lovers to Explore, Experience and Engage, as their motto states. Maryke came to tell us all about their turtle rehabilitation programme and how it forms part of their vision to inspire people to care about the ocean and to make changes that lead to living sustainably. They were instrumental in rehabilitating more than 200 turtles last year!  Without their help these animals would almost certainly have died of hypothermia and the effects of plastic ingestion.

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Direct impacts of oil spill in Eastern Cape but this is only tip of the ice berg...

August 30, 2016 Anwynn Louw

The visuals of oiled African penguins is always enough to generate an emotional response of outrage and sadness. The amazing work done by the NGO's in the field of penguin & seabird rescue are highlighted. But behind these images and sheer commitment of getting the birds cleaned up and returned to the wild lies the bigger impact.

We know, through years of research, that rehabilitation works and that it is vital to return every possible bird back to the wild if we want to save the endangered African penguin from extinction. 
But the long term effect of an oil spill will inevitably have an impact, not only on the African penguin & other seabird species.

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Deceased white shark at Danger Point 7 August 2016

August 08, 2016 Brenda du Toit

A great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) was spotted floating just offshore of Kruismansbaai, Danger Point in the late morning of Sunday the 7th of August. On arriving at the scene the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s (DICT) research team met local shark boat skipper Phillip Colyn and other volunteers from White Shark Diving Company who had been trying to revive the shark. One last attempt was made by the team to irrigate the shark’s gills by wading with it in waist deep water but unfortunately despite all efforts the shark died. The shark was then taken to the nearest sandy beach, wrapped in fishing net and loaded onto the Trust’s marine stranding bakkie.

After communication with the Department of Environmental Affairs officials, the decision was made to bring the shark carcass back to the International Marine Volunteer (IMV) facility in Kleinbaai. The following day, DEA scientists collected the white shark and took it to be stored for dissection by the White Shark Research Group (WSRG) and government scientists within the next week. The Trust’s enviro kids club were able to see the shark before it was collected and assisted in taking external measurements which was a very unique and educational opportunity for them.

“Local members of the community assisted with the loading of the shark which was much appreciated as the weight of this shark could be around 170kgs,” said Alison Towner from DICT. “As is always the case with this iconic species, many people have opinions on the matter, but the national scientists and government will perform the dissection and look for reasons behind the mortality. For now, the cause of mortality is unknown. The external examination revealed that the shark had no obvious injuries or fishing gear apparent. The stomach was however very bloated. We can confirm the shark was a 2,7m (total length) adolescent male” said Towner.

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Marine Evening - Two Oceans Aquarium: Returning the Raggies

July 26, 2016 Brenda du Toit

Who hasn’t marvelled at the beautiful ragged tooth sharks cruising around the display at the Two Oceans Aquarium? Thousands of children are enthralled by them – and probably the first shark they have ever seen up close.

Deen Hill from the Two Oceans Aquarium was the most recent guest speaker at the regular marine evenings held by the Marine Dynamics group of companies at the Great White House.  Deen has a solid aquatic upbringing in the nature loving community of Noordhoek, bordered by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean - Deen is as comfortable in the ocean as he is on land. Choosing his career path, it was a natural progression for him to carry his aquatic skills learned through surfing and spear fishing to the professional world with the ultimate goal of staying as close to the sea as possible. After graduating from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, he landed his dream job as collections Officer at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Facts about ragged tooth sharks:

Deen has been involved in all aspects of capture and release of this iconic species that does well in captivity. These locally abundant juvenile ragged-tooth sharks act as ambassadors for their species as the Two Oceans Aquarium only displays them for a short period of time before returning them to the wild. They are usually captured when they are 50-80cm and once they reach a certain size they are released at Buffels Bay (close to the Knysna/Plettenberg Bay area), where other ragged-tooth sharks of a similar age are found. All the sharks are tagged prior to their release and this data supports scientists in understanding their movements along the South African coastline. Studies have shown that they adopt the same migration patterns as sharks that have not been in captivity. The status of the South African ragged-tooth shark population is currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Marine Dynamics has enjoyed a partnership with the aquarium for many years and Wilfred closed the meeting with special thanks to Two Oceans Aquarium for their generous R100 000 donation to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary last year.

Next month’s marine evening will be on the turtle conservation at the aquarium. Please email to be added to the mailing list.


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African Marine Mammal Colloquium (AMMC) - A Meeting of Marine Mammal Minds

May 28, 2016 Meredith Thornton

The 4th biennial meeting of the African Marine Mammal Colloquium (AMMC) was recently hosted and organised by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, together with the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria. The AMMC is open to anyone working with marine mammals in the southern African sub-region and is structured as part workshop, part conference, with all meals and accommodation provided communally as part of the event in order to maximise opportunities for networking.  It was held for the 3rd time at the Great White House in Kleinbaai from 22-27 May.  Delegates gathered under skeletons of bottlenose dolphins and a southern right whale sharing ideas and stories all week long.  A more apt, beautiful and inspiring venue cannot be easily found!

The aim of the AMMC is to bring marine mammalogists, boat-based whale watchers, citizen scientists, conservationists, educators and government together under one roof to share their work and ideas. The colloquium is primarily a means to reduce overlap in research, to facilitate collaboration, develop longer-term, large-scale research plans and projects and to encourage pooling of resources.  Marine mammal research is notoriously expensive as it takes years to collect data on long-lived, elusive creatures such as whales, seals and dolphins.  Fuel for boat-time, equipment and sample processing are daily challenges that marine mammalogists face.  The AMMC forges relationships and data sharing opportunities along our coast that helps to reduce the pressure of some of these issues, which ultimately benefits conservation actions for the animals.

Presentations ranged from research as far afield as seals in the Southern Ocean by Professor Marthán Bester, to reporting on a Decade of Achievement of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT).  There were talks on acoustics, population studies, citizen science and the impact of seismic surveys on whales and dolphins, to name but a few.  Workshops were also held to compare ID photographs of humpback dolphins all along the western and eastern Cape coastlines and on figuring out strategies for the future of marine mammal research in South Africa.

The DICT has recently expanded their humpback dolphin research by entering into a collaboration with the Mammal Research Institute and Sea Search, gathering data for an extensive project on Indian Ocean humpback dolphins, Sousa plumbea.  The project is part of a larger project called SouSA and here is a photo taken at the AMMC just after the signing of a MoU by several members of the consortium.  Humpback dolphins are South Africa’s most endangered dolphin so this work is of paramount importance to their future.  Our Masters student, Sandra Hoerbst, is in need of better quality camera equipment for collection of our photo ID pictures, so if you would like to learn more about the project and assist by donating towards this cause, please contact


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Dolphin Day - 14 April 2016

April 14, 2016 by dyertrust


The word alone conjures images of freedom and grace. For the entire history of humankind man has felt a strong affinity for these beautiful creatures.

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Penguin Waddle 2016

April 12, 2016 Posted by Brenda Du Toit

The annual Waddle for a week, now its sixth year, kicked off from the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary – APSS in Kleinbaai, Gansbaai on Monday 11 April. The APSS team, Strandveld Hiking Group, representatives from Gansbaai tourism, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Whale Coast Conservation team as well as the young ones from Gansbaai Primary School greeted the group of 16 Waddlers. The group arrived at APSS on Sunday for an educational behind-the-scenes tour with penguin whisperer, Xolani.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has supported the Penguin Promises Waddle project since it first kicked off on May 23rd back in 2011. The Waddle covers a total distance of 125km’s From Kleinbaai all along to coast to Boulders Beach in Simons Town (See map here). Day 1 covered the distance between Gansbaai and Stanford.

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Pik 'n Wyn - A Party To Support Our Penguins In Peril

March 31, 2016 by dyertrust

The Pik n Wyn event will be a delicious food and wine pairing affair in aid of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary. The evening combines the talents of chef Shane Sauvage of La Pentola and Creation Wines, both award winners. Sauvage has written three cookbooks, the most recent Cape Fusion will be on sale at the event. Creation Wines recently developed the African Penguin Reserve wine with a percentage of sales going to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS). The sparkling event with live entertainment takes place at the Great White House in Gansbaai, the only place where you can eat under a whale skeleton.

Its been a decade of achievement for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust with its driving approach of effective scientific research that can influence conservation decisions for the critical Dyer Island ecosystem in Gansbaai, Western Cape. Key to the success has been the support of the local community and the clients of eco-tourism businesses Marine Dynamics Shark Tours and Dyer Island Cruises who have financially supported the work. The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a project of the Trust, has in its first year successfully saved more than 90% of the 114 endangered African penguins and various other seabirds. However, this new development has come with increased costs to the trust and fundraising efforts have been stepped up to ensure smooth operations at APSS.

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March 17, 2016 by Professor Robert Siegel

Robert is a Professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine University, California. For over two decades he has served as course director of the infectious disease component of the required medical curriculum. Having broad interests, his courses include topics in infectious disease and human virology, Darwin and evolution, global health and development, natural history and ecology, island biogeography, nature photography, and even a c

Robert is a Professor at Stanford’s School of Medicine University, California. For over two decades he has served as course director of the infectious disease component of the required medical curriculum. Having broad interests, his courses include topics in infectious disease and human virology, Darwin and evolution, global health and development, natural history and ecology, island biogeography, nature photography, and even a course about Stanford.

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First birthday for the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary

March 04, 2016 by dyertrust

The opening of the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary - APSS on 26 February 2015 was a dream that came true for a group of people passionate about the conservation of marine birds in the Overstrand; and the first year of operation is a tribute to all the sponsors, visitors, volunteers and friends who believed in this dream.

With this support we achieved our goal of making a difference in the field of marine bird conservation.

None of this would be possible without your support.

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January 29, 2016 by Alison Towner, DICT biologist

On Thursday the 21st January a dead stingray at the Blousloep in Franskraal was reported to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. It had washed up the day before and a photograph was shown to Marine Dynamics manager Hennie Otto who immediately arranged a team to collect the 220kg specimen from the municipal landfill where it had been discarded. After consulting with expert Dr. Andrea Marshall who identified it from photographs as a male Sickle Fin devil ray Mobulid tarpanaca, DICT biologists began dissecting the devil ray the next morning.

The ray initially washed up with two large remora fish attached. Remarkably they were still alive after having been buried and were released back into the ocean by the DICT. The dissection took three hours and involved detailed measurements and sample collections of the skin, muscle tissue, stomach, gill arches and tooth band areas. Devil rays (mobulids) are closely related to the manta rays. This spectacular specimen was the furthest south ever recorded in Africa for its species!

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January 21, 2016 by dyertrust

Sex specific and individual preferences for hunting strategy in white sharks.

A recent paper published in Functional Ecology challenges the often-assumed hunting strategy of great white sharks as ambush predators. This is the first white shark research paper to be published in the esteemed British journal. The work took place in Gansbaai – a coastal aggregation site known as the world capital for sighting the species in South Africa. The research was completed by a team of international researchers from the UK, SA, USA and Germany.

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December 10, 2015 by dyertrust

Alison Towner DICT’s senior biologist and a PhD student at the University of Rhodes, has been looking at Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias populations for the past nine (9) years in Gansbaai, South Africa. As another year comes to a close we are reflecting back on our achievements with white shark research at the DICT and we are feeling quite proud!

Alison and the team completed the Initial deployment phase of 10 VR2W listening stations, which took place in July; these stations are due to be changed out soon. They have been capturing data behind Dyer Island with acoustic receivers as part of a collaborative African Tracking Platform ATAP since 2013. This network incorporates data from all tagged species along our coastline, not just white sharks; we are always very interested to see who has ‘pinged in’ at our stations around the bay!

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November 27, 2015 by Meredith Thornton Research Coordinator, Dyer Island Conservation Trust

It’s all a matter of opinion!

Just the other day, 25 November, the whale watching/eco trip vessel, Dreamcatcher, from Dyer Island Cruises stumbled upon a dead whale that had already stated turning white due to decomposition. The skin was falling off and the stench had started. It wasn’t possible to figure out which species it was, but from the shape of the flippers it was definitely not a humpback or a southern right whale. It also wasn’t possible to determine the cause of death.

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November 24, 2015 by dyertrust

Fb cover with dict logo
Its going to be a MADChristmas this year!

Yes, it is that time of the year again. Unbelievable, we know. This year the Dyer Island Conservation Trust launches the #MADChristmas innitiative.

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Orchestral Extravaganza

November 23, 2015 by dyertrust

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra presents: The Grootbos Orchestral Extravaganza. For the first time ever, an orchestra will resound in our fynbos paradise on the eve of 16 December in the majestic Forest Lodge.

Experience the finesse of a harmonious masterpiece, combining the top orchestra in the country with the delights of Grootbos.

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November 12, 2015 by dyertrust

On Friday the 6th of November the Dyer Island Conservation Trusts team gave a presentation at the Hemel en Aarde valley club house in Hermanus. The evening was hosted by Gerhard Van de Merwe who for the past few weeks has been volunteering his time to help out at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Kleinbaai, Gansbaai. He organised the event to introduce the team from the DICT to fellow residents as well as showcasing our delightful new wine label African Penguin reserve which was made in partnership with Creation Wines.


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Marine Evening 27 Oct: The application of Bio Mimicry by Mike Barron

November 02, 2015 by dyertrust

Mike Barron has recently joined our tourism partner's team at Marine Dynamics as Marine Biologist andguideon the shark cage diving vessel, Slashfin. Mike is also busy with his Masters Degree lookinginto the effects of visual sign stimuli on white shark behaviour He has been involved in the Marine biology industry for over 6 years.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Mike decided to make South Africa his home in order to follow hispassion for the amazing wildlife Africa has to offer. Mikes main interest is marineconservation, specifically shark behaviour.

Bio mimicry is the observational science of studying natures amazing and ingenious adaptations to their surrounding environment and using them to create innovative, sustainable approaches to everyday life in the human world.

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A newly appointed Operations Manager for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust

October 26, 2015 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Pinkey Ngewu as the Operations Manager.

Pinkey is a passionate marine and nature guide with a diploma in Nature Conservation. Pinkey has nine years experience in conservation and tourism and is aware of conservation needs and sustainability of our natural resources. Pinkey is also involved in the operations of FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) in the Western Cape and Namaqualand region as an Executive Coordinator.

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Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria

October 09, 2015 by dyertrust

Meredith Thornton, Research Coordinator
Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has a long-standing relationship with the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria. Every year around this time we provide support to their team of researchers from their Whale Unit while they are conducting their annual aerial survey for southern right whales.

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Managing Director of Volkswagen South Africa Visited DICT

September 24, 2015 by dyertrust

Thomas Schaefer, recently appointed Managing Director of Volkswagen South Africa (Feb2015), connected with Trust founder Wilfred Chivell at the Port Elizabeth rally. Volkswagen South Africa has been a corporate sponsor of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust since 2010. The team was looking so forward to the pending visit of Mr Schaefer and his wife Wendy to Gansbaai.20150920-IMG_6096

Schafer has worked for the Volkswagen Group since 2012 as head of Group Production - Foreign Plants. He previously worked for Mercedes Benz AG since 1994 and has travelled widely worked in various countries including China, Malaysia and Germany.

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Southern African Shark and Ray Symposium

September 21, 2015 by dyertrust

Blog DICT: By Alison Towner
The third Southern African Shark and Ray Symposium, hosted by Shark Spotters and the Save Our Seas Foundation, took place from the 6th-9th of September at the Blue Horizon estate in Simons Town. A record 114 delegates attended to discuss the latest research findings on cartilaginous fish species along the southern African coastline. Marine Dynamics biologist Kelly Baker and I were fortunate enough to attend the event and thoroughly enjoyed the large spectrum of talks covering a multitude of elasmobranch species!

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Tagging success!

August 06, 2015 by dyertrust

Alison Towner
DICT Marine Biologist

It is now peak winter season here in the Western Cape. At this time of year we tend to get extreme cold fronts interspersed by one or two windless days followed by another cold front! On the morning of Tuesday 28th July, a 3m swell with very little wind provided us with a morning gap, so we grabbed the opportunity to launch our research boat Lwazi in an attempt to deploy our first round of R-code transmitters! To our joy we were able to successfully deploy tags on two individual sharks whilst we were anchored on a reef system west of Dyer Island called the Geldsteen.

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Enriching Young Minds

August 05, 2015 by dyertrust

As part of our environmental education programme, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and International Marine Volunteers (IMV) has joined hands with Gina Boysens Enviro-Club from Masakhane Primary School to help to enhance their programme and to fulfil our aim to nurture young minds and instil in them a passion for the environment and the conservation thereof, with a focus on marine life.

On the 3rd of August the group of 9-10 year old girls were collected from school by Francois Swart, our IMV coordinator, and brought to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS). The IMV volunteers joined in to help out, making sure all the learners had a quick snack on arrival and they helped them with their special DICT T-shirt for wearing to their club meetings. Then they got down to the business of learning all about where plastic, glass, metal and paper come from, how paper is more renewable than plastics, why recycling is important and most importantly what we can do to make a difference in the world around us, by making wise choices.

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A unique opportunity: The Dyer Island Conservation Trust dissect a Great White Shark carcass.

July 09, 2015 by dyertrust

By Alison Towner, DICT Marine Biologist.

On Friday afternoon the 26th of June, a local fisherman Pikkie Smal contacted the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) to report the carcass of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The shark was found washed up at De Gruis, towards the end of the Uilkraalmonds beach, in Franskraal. The DICT responded immediately with a team of their crew and biologists alongside CEO Wilfred Chivell. On arrival, the sun was setting, but the team managed to confirm that the shark was an adolescent female. The specimen quality was very poor and decomposed. The shark had likely been dead for a number of weeks as her skin pigmentation was badly bleached. The team measured her at 3.2meters, pre caudal length. Interestingly the tail was completely missing, with this intact she would likely have measured close to 3.5m total length (TL).

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Common Dolphin Stranding at Die Plaat

June 30, 2015 by dyertrust

Meredith Thornton
Research Co-ordinator

On the 21st of June we received a call about a dead dolphin stranded at 2nd beach, along Die Plaat. We promptly got all our stranding gear together measuring tape, knives, clipboards, data sheets and sampling equipment, and as soon as the volunteers returned from their shark cage diving trip we all hopped into the International Marine Volunteers (IMV) Samil and headed down to the coast.

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Deployment Success

June 25, 2015 by dyertrust

By Alison Towner, DICT.

On Thursday the 11th of June, our team, including our International Marine Volunteers, launched to deploy phase one of our acoustic receivers. This work forms an integral component of my PhD research on white shark behavioral ecology and habitat use in the Gansbaai region. We began the expedition by retrieving and replacing the line of receivers previously deployed outside Dyer Island. Dr Rhett Bennett from the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) joined us, and as the receivers each have acoustic releases no diving was required. (Also see Dyer Island Acoustic Receiver Roll Over, DICT Deploy Vemco VR2 Listening Stations). Each ATAP listening station surfaced within 6 minutes, with very little bio-fouling. We were lucky as the process can take hours and stations can sometimes become severely fouled! We were able to re-deploy new stations again within an hour! Once completed, we moved off to several other sites around Gansbaai and Dyer Island to drop the first phase of receivers for the white shark passive tracking project. Each deployment site was carefully selected, to provide optimal acoustic tag coverage, based on our previous manual tracking data and our combined skippers extensive knowledge of white shark hotspots. It is also imperative that we selected safe depths for the receivers, given the relentless nature of the Cape of Storms!

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Zimmermann Group - Sponsors become Friends and Family

June 01, 2015 by dyertrust

The 15th May 2015 marked the International Day of Families and Friends - celebrating the importance of your loved and cherished ones, close and far.

But it is not always just your blood kin that is considered family, or life long acquaintances that is considered as friends. Many a time those who whirlwind into your life - support and believe in you and your dreams also become friends and family - from a stranger walking into an establishment, to a friend in mere months.

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Bottlenose Dolphin stranding at Romansbaai

May 26, 2015 by dyertrust

Bottlenose Dolphins are a common sight along the Overstrand coastline of South Africa. A welcome sight to tourists from all over with world, there is very few things as spectacular as seeing a pod of Dolphins playing the surf.

On Friday the 21st of May a juvenile Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) washed up in Romansbaai, on the western side of the Dangerpoint peninsula from Kleinbaai.

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April 21, 2015 by dyertrust

Our Tourism Partners - Marine Dynamics is very proud to have won the African Responsible Tourism Award for Best in Wildlife Conservation. This category is awarded to a tourism business or initiative that preserves and carefully manages habitat and wildlife species.

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Sawchuk - Tagged White Shark Female update

March 24, 2015 by dyertrust

Back in October 2014, our team deployed a pop off archival or PAT transmitter on a female white shark. We named the shark Sawchuk after the family who kindly donated towards her tag.

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March 02, 2015 by dyertrust

CAPE TOWN The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) was opened in Gansbaai on the 26th February 2015, marking a monumental milestone for the conservation of the African penguin and other marine birds in the Overstrand region of the Western Cape.

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The Two Oceans I&J Predator Tank Dive - Alison Towner

February 21, 2015 by dyertrust

The Two Oceans I&J predator tank dive: an inside perspective on their denizens of the deep.

By Alison Towner,

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Two Oceans Aquarium Sponsors the DICT

February 04, 2015 by dyertrust

The DICT has been in partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium for almost a decade, and through the years the relationship has grown from strength to strength.

A common shared passion is one of a love for African Penguins and other seabirds.

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VW German Media Group Visits the DICT

January 26, 2015 by dyertrust

On the 2oth January 2015 VWSA, partners of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust since 2011, hosted their German Media Group at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Kleinbaai, South Africa.

The group joined our tourism partner, Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, for a shark cage dive to meet our mysterious beauty's - our Great White sharks.

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Marine Evening January 2015 - BRUV's at Dyer Island

January 17, 2015 by dyertrust

Learning more about our inshore fish through Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems.

Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust hosted another very successful and informative Marine Evening at the Great White House in Kleinbaai on Tuesday, 27th January 2015.

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Dyer Island acoustic receiver roll over

December 08, 2014 by dyertrust

1-DSC_0382Monday the 8th of December, as Kleinbaai harbor is bustling with busy with holiday makers, our biologists and volunteers launched the DICT research boat Lwazi in order to retrieve and re-deploy the listening stations behind Dyer Island.


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Sylvia Earle Visit the DICT and Marine Dynamics

December 07, 2014 by dyertrust

Visionaries in the Field of Conservation come together in Kleinbaai to celebrate the launch of the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot.

It is every conservationists dream to meet their Icon in the field in which they specialize, meeting them is special, but having the opportunity to host an array of conservation visionaries for a morning is an honour very few people are bestowed with.

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer and Ocean Guardian and founder of the Mission Blue Hope Spot Initiative, visited the Overstrand to launce our newly proclaimed Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. On Sunday, 7th December 2014, she was hosted at the Great White House in Kleinbaai where she met with Wilfred Chivell and the local like minded supporters of marine conservation.

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Stories of Help - FNB Protects Penguins...

December 02, 2014 by dyertrust

Thousands of International travelers visit South Africa every year, and in particular the Overstrand region for one of the most exilhirating expereriences of a lifetime, diving with Great White sharks.All of these travelers are exposed to our marine orientated conservation endeavors through theDyer Island Conservation Trust.

The DICT works with our local communities, as we believe that we can talk conservation all we want to, but if we do not have the supportof the local community our efforts are futile. But this is also true on a National level - there is thousands of people that never set foot along our coastline, and never hear of or can support our work, other than relying on word of mouth we do not reach many people that are inland bound in South Africa.

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Giving Nature a Future through our Youth - Marine Month, October 2014

November 11, 2014 by dyertrust

Every year the Dyer Island Conservation Trust utilizes Marine Month (October) as an opportunity to showcase the efforts we put into marine conservation through Environmental Education.

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International Coastal Cleanup 2014

September 21, 2014 by dyertrust

Every year, on the 20/21st September, the world comes together to tackle one of the biggest threats our ocean faces every single day pollution. Worldwide thousands of kilograms of Plastics, Monofilament Fishing line, and a magnitude of other pollutants wash out on our beaches - every single day.

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Critically Endangered Turtle saved!!!!

September 12, 2014 by dyertrust

On Thursday, 10th September 2014, Mr. Jacques Viviers who is a commercial fisherman in Gansbaai contacted the Dyer Island Conservation Trust about a sea turtle which was floating the Gansbaai harbor, amongst the trawlers.

On arrival, our rescuers Pieter, Kira and Star were shown a medium sized turtle floating close to one of the trawlers. Time was of the essence as the wary creature was slowly drifting towards a gap between the trawlers and the jetty. Kwezi used a hand net to scoop the lethargic creature from the water, and once in hand, it was evident this animal was in a very poor condition.

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Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot ? highlighting our world...

August 23, 2014 by dyertrust

Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot highlighting our world...

1-Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot - Hi ResThe Overstrand region is built on a rich and diverse marine environment. Many of the small towns started off as sleepy little fishermans villages. Nothing much has changed, except the size of our towns, with eco tourism replacing much of the fishing in the area. Combined these two industries supplies the majority of jobs in the Overstrand

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APSS Groundbreaking Ceremony August 2014

August 21, 2014 by dyertrust


On the 19th of August a group of high level individuals passionate about conservation, gathered at the Birkenhead Lodge grounds at Gansbaai in the Western Cape, to launch a significant partnership aimed at providing a sanctuary for the endangered African Penguin and Seabirds.

A Festive flagline marks the layout of APSS

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) will be dedicated to the unconditional welfare of distressed seabirds in the Overstrand region, said Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), and words cannot express how grateful we are for the support of our donors which have made today possible.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is driving the establishment of the rehab centre supported by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA), Wildlands, Grindrod Bank and the Blue Fund.

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Yamaha Engines Powers Research

August 21, 2014 by dyertrust

When you work out at sea on some of the most well known rough sea regions, around Dyer Island in the Western Cape of South Africa, you know the importance of a well tuned and powerful boat engine.

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How Great White Sharks use their habitat

July 04, 2014 by dyertrust

Science made easy a great infographic depicting our glorious Great White Sharks reaction towards their habitat up to quite recently researchers were limited in the modeling available to understand species-barrier interaction making it difficult to factor into their fidnings these species reaction towards reefs , islands and other obstacles they may encounter.

Oliver Jewell and Michelle Wcisel were surprised to see that our open population Great White Sharks were behaving so much differently in different regions along the South African coastline, here is a small teaser as to what might actually be happening at Geyser Rock in Gansbaai:

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Sulle tracce del Grande Squalo Bianco

May 29, 2014 by dyertrust

Il 2014 ha segnato l'undicesimo anno del Dr. Primo Micarelli per tornare a Kleinbaai in Sud Africa e per continuare i suoi studi sul comportamento e la biologia dei grandi squali bianchi. Il Dr. Micarelli il Coordinatore e Responsabile Scientifico della spedizione scientifica italiana denominata "Sulle tracce del Grande Squalo Bianco del Centro Studi Squali, un gruppo di ricerca situato a Massa Marittima, in Toscana, Italia .

Quest'anno stata la prima volta, come noto, che il "Gruppo di Primo ha scelto come operatore, per questa spedizione, Marine Dynamics Shark Tours.

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On the Tracks of the Great White Shark

May 23, 2014 by dyertrust

2014 marked the eleventh year of Dr. Primo Micarellis returning to Kleinbaai in South Africa to continue his study on the behaviour and biology of Great White Sharks. Dr. Micarelli is the Responsible Scientific Coordinator of the Italian Scientific Expedition called Sulle Orme Del Grande Squalo Bianco, which directly translates to On the Tracks of the Great White Shark - a research group from the Centro Studi Squali (Study Center of Sharks) situated in Massa Marittima, Tuscany, Italy.

This year was the first time for the Primo Group, as they became known, to use Marine Dynamics Shark Tours as their operator of choice for this expedition. Marine Dynamics is and Eco Tourism partner of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and serves as a daily platform, facilitating data capturing for the Great White Shark research projects that are currently ongoing through the DICT.

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African Penguins - a Spring Fever event

May 20, 2014 by dyertrust

A young girl with a big heart fell in love with African Penguins in South Africa, and her dedication to contribute to the conservation of this endangered species is admirable.

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Hard at Work for Penguins!

April 16, 2014 by dyertrust

On Wednesday, 12th February 2014, instead of volunteering on Marine Dynamics shark cage diving boat, Slashfin, seven of our International Marine Volunteers had the privilege to visit one of the largest remaining African Penguin colonies in the world, Stony Point in Bettys Bay.

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Whale Day 2014

April 16, 2014 by dyertrust

1-DSC_0172In honor of whale day, representatives from the International Marine Volunteers, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics made a special visit to an elementary school, Gansbaai Primer, in the Overstrand.

A story was told to the children in which a Right Whale begins its migration all the way from Antarctica to South Africa and along the way it sees a variety of exotic creatures and becomes jealous of each of their unique features.

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Waddle for Penguins 2014

March 07, 2014 by dyertrust

It is that time of year again, 16 people waddling along the Western Cape coastal roads, attempting to cover 120kms in 6 days.

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Walking with Great White Sharks

February 19, 2014 by dyertrust

Who can say that they have walked 600,000 steps alongside Great White Sharks?

Grant Christie,of Six Million Steps, has done just that -along the 300km stretch of coast in the Overstrand.

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66 Sharks Caught in West Australia

February 18, 2014 by dyertrust

Large sharks are facing another tragic fate at the hand of man, again, with a total of 66 sharks that have already been baited on the drumlines deployed across the west coast of Australia resultant of the Shark Mitigation Policy signed off by the Western Australian Government.Seventeenof these sharks were over the 3m kill limit and was killed and dumped out at sea. Of the 66 sharks caught, 63 were Tiger Sharks, 2 were Mako Sharks and 1 was a Black Tip.

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Culling of Great White Sharks...

January 27, 2014 by dyertrust

In June 2013 the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, in conjunction with Marine Dynamics, released the results of a groundbreaking study on Great White Sharks, providing the first ever open population estimate of this species in the Great White Shark capitol of the world Gansbaai, South Africa.

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Painting the World Blue

December 30, 2013 by dyertrust

Almost a year ago VW South Africabrought the wonderfully creative Popular Mechanics team with a group of avid PM readers to visit the DICT. They were here tolearnmore about our research into Great White Sharks and to experience these wonderful creatures for themselves first hand aboard Slashfin, our Marine Dynamics cage diving vessel.

Since then we have alsoturned intoavid Popular Mechanics readers, waiting in anticipation for our magazines to arrive each month....

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Infographic - Introducing the Marine Big 5

November 21, 2013 by dyertrust

Finally it seems our Marine Big 5 are starting to get the recognition they deserve! We found this infographic which introduces all the members and illustrates some interesting facts about each of them. So many people think about the safari big 5 (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo) when you mention Africa, but fewer people know that in South Africa we have the Marine Big 5. Not only that, but even less people know that Gansbaai is the place they call home. We are so proud of our Marine Big 5. Take a look at the infographic below and let us know which member is your favourite.

This info graphic was proudly brought to you by Gansbaai Explore, your online gateway for info, business and travel in Gansbaai

Bronze Whaler Sharks at Dyer Island, Gansbaai South Africa

November 14, 2013 by dyertrust

With the recent sightings of Bronze Whaler Sharks around our tourism partner, Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, cage diving vessel - Slashfin, the intrigues of this species has caused us to look at their distribution, habitat and behaviour more closely to try and understand why they are visiting these boats.

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DICT at 17th EEA Conference

November 11, 2013 by dyertrust

From 1-3 November, Dyer Island Conservation Trust marine biologists, Oliver and Michelle, presented some of our white shark research at the 17thEuropean Elasmobranch Association(EEA) conference.

The Shark Trust hosted this years event in Plymouth, UK.

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Rolling Hills Zoo Supports the DICT

November 09, 2013 by dyertrust

Early in 2013 the DICT was approached by Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, America, as a possible charity for a long term fundraising project.

We were ever so glad, as the DICT is an NPO that relies on people with big conservation orientated hearts to sponsor the projects and operations of the Trust.
Beginning November 2013 we received the following wonderful news from the Rolling Hills Zoo team:

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Marine Evening condemns Marine Pollution

November 08, 2013 by dyertrust

Marine Evenings hosted by Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust at the Great White House in Kleinbaai, provides a platform for Conservationists and Scientists in marine related fields to share their knowledge with our Overstrand community.

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Whale Week 2013 - Filling a life sized wire whale with plastics

November 07, 2013 by dyertrust

The statistics for ocean pollution makes for very grim reading a study done in 2006 by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimates that every square mile of ocean is infested with around 46,000 pieces of plastic - today we expect this figure to be up to 27 times higher.

Every year we lose over a million seabirds, and more than 100,000 ocean mammals killed by pollutants in our oceans. We want to lay the blame for this on ocean-going vessels dumping their rubbish out at sea, but the truth is that in excess of 80% of ocean garbage comes from land, from you and I.

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Southern Right Whale Annual Aerial Survey

October 11, 2013 by dyertrust

The Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit of the University of Pretoria will be able to do their annual helicopter survey of the southern right whale population over the first two to three weeks of October. This survey, to be carried out westwards from Natures Valley to Muizenberg, is the 35th in a series of surveys that have been carried out annually since 1979. The survey is flown some 500 to 800 m offshore and all encountered southern right whales and other whale species are recorded. Groups of southern right whales comprising a cow and calf pair are photographed with images of both the heads and the backs of the animals being taken, as individuals can be recognised from the patterns of the wart - like callosities on their heads and in some cases from the pigmentation patterns on their backs. Identification photography of such groups usually takes less than five minutes per group during which the helicopter hovers some 500ft above the whales.

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Noordkaap Voortrekker 2013 - Supports the Marine Big 5

October 02, 2013 by dyertrust


Once again the teachers with the Voortrekkers Group outdid themselves with their students full of knowledge about our Marine Big 5.

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The DICT deploy VEMCO VR2 listening stations.

September 13, 2013 by dyertrust

Thursday, 12th September 2013, marked a revolutionary event in terms of data collection around Dyer Island. A line of five VEMCO VR2w listening stations were successfully deployed, by the Dyer Island Conservation Trusts research team and Marine Dynamics, to the south of Dyer Island. Each station is able to detect the coded ultrasonic signal from a range of tagged fish species such as white sharks, ragged tooth sharks, dusky kob, leervis (garrick), and white steenbras as well as other marine animals like turtles.

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International Researchers Visit the DICT with Nat Geo

September 11, 2013 by dyertrust

National Geographic and Researchers from Stanford University visits the DICT to film a new documentary and conduct research into thebehaviorof Great White Sharks.

The first few weeks in August 2013 the Dyer Island Conservation Trust hosted Adrian Gleiss and Taylor Chapple from the Stanford University as part of a National Geographic expedition to Gansbaai, South Africa.

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National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration

September 09, 2013 by dyertrust



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Cooking with Sustainable Marine Resources

September 04, 2013 by dyertrust

On Tuesday, 3rd September 2013, the internationally acclaimed MasterChef series broadcast their visit to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

Ozzy Osman, a 22 year old accounting student from Johannesburg, was one of the final five contestants on MasterChef SA on Tuesday 27th August 2013.

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Marine Volunteers tackle tough aliens...

August 27, 2013 by dyertrust

Acacia cyclops, or rather Rooikrans as it more widely known is an alien invasive tree that was originally planted by the colonialists to stabilize sand dunes and now it has become one of the most wide spread alien invasive trees in our region. This coastal alien stabilizing our mobile sand dune systems, starving the coastal sections of healthy sand which is necessary for healthy ecosystem functioning.

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For the love of our Oceans...

August 23, 2013 by dyertrust

For the love of our oceans....

The slogan above epitomizes all that WWFs Sustainable Seafood Initiative stands for and seafood Consumer Outreach Manager, Janine Basson, put this message across beautifully at the latest marine evening hosted at the Great White House in Kleinbaai - by Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises. The Overberg hosts many an enthusiastic fishermen, shore and boat based, with fishing being the livelihood of many of the people living in Gansbaai so the conservation of the fish resources in this area is of utmost importance.

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Environmental influences on Great White Sharks

August 16, 2013 by dyertrust


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DICT participates in recent Bathymetric survey

July 12, 2013 by dyertrust

DICT participates in recent Bathymetric survey aroundthe Dyer Island system and inshore Reefs.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has recently collaborated with Underwater Surveys (PTY) Ltd, a private marine services company based in Cape Town. Mark Prowse and Hydrographic Surveyor Andrew Matthew towed the company survey boat from Cape Town and spent two full days at sea in the Gansbaai area. The 6.7m custom-finished vessel Blue Dolphin is a computer lab on water and is fully kitted out with a high-resolution multibeam echosounder which is pole-mounted underwater over the stern and complemented by high-accuracy Real-time Kinematic (RTK) GPS positioning and vessel attitude sensing equipment. Huge amounts of data are collected and logged onto a high-powered PC running some really advanced survey software which displays bathymetric data in real-time for the operators. The aim of this visit was to conduct a detailed bathymetric survey and produce high resolution three dimensional charts of some interesting areas around the Dyer Island system and the inshore regions seafloor and topography.

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Fishing line entangled Shark "Lucky", free, healthy and back at Dyer Island!

July 12, 2013 by dyertrust

Fishing line entangled Shark "Lucky", free, healthy and back at Dyer Island!

We all know the feeling when you see an old friend again after a prolonged period of time, or the joy when observing a previously very ill friend return to health.

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Great White Shark study in the limelight at the Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town.

June 19, 2013 by dyertrust

It is now evident that the impact of angling and interference pressure on the Great White Sharks , before they were protected in South Africa in 1991, had a much greater effect than anticipated. There is no evidence of a tangible recovery in the numbers of this species.

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Great Danger for the Great White Shark

June 17, 2013 by dyertrust

Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa - The global population of great white sharks - generally estimated at 3000-5000 - may have been significantly overestimated. A recentstudy done by the Biologists of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Mainre Dynamics,has indicated theregionalopen population of Great White Sharks in the Gansbaai area can safely be estimated at between 808 and 1008 individuals, 50% less than the original regional population estimate of 2000.As a result the great white shark - already listed as a species "vulnerable to extinction in the wild" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - may be in greater danger than has been previously recognised. The following link showcases a summary of the study.


May 14, 2013 by dyertrust

All over South Africa people are being left homeless, mostly due to environmental disasters flooding, wildfires and poverty this is heartbreaking to see and experience.

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A little heart goes a long way

May 13, 2013 by dyertrust

aditiThe African Penguins on Dyer Island, South Africa, can hear a strong little heart beating more than 14 500km away

This strong little heart belongs to a bushy tailed, bright eyed, little lady, by the name of Aditi Deokar.

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H.M.S Birkenhead

March 08, 2013 by dyertrust


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Valuable Vomit found on a beach in Hermanus

March 06, 2013 by dyertrust

On Thursday, 28th February 2013, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust got a call from Fred Kuys, a home owner in Voelklip Hermanus. I went out for a walk on Grotto Beach, with my wife Val and our visitors from the UK, this afternoon and we found something which we think might be whale vomit was Freds description of the afternoons events. The DICT deals with some really interesting calls from the public, but this topped them all

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Shark Conservation Society honorary membership

February 18, 2013 by dyertrust

web_chivellWilfred Chivell awarded honorary lifetime membership to the Shark Conservation Society!

From the Shark Conservation Society press release: The board of the Society is delighted to announce that Wilfred Chivell has accepted Honorary Life Membership (HLM) of SCS. Wilfred is a committed "action type" conservationist who founded the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. He is also the owner of Marine Dynamics (a Gansbaai shark ecotourism operator) and a well known figure in marine wildlife circles in South Africa's Western Cape. Within SCS there has always been the belief that in general life, and in conservation, there are the 'doers' and the 'talkers' - Wilfred is very much a doer!

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Great White Shark freed from deadly fishing line

February 18, 2013 by dyertrust

Great white shark in fishing lineEarlier this January, shark cage diving operators in Gansbaai notified the Dyer Island Conservation Trust of a juvenile (<3m) female white shark entangled in fishing line. The line was wrapped tightly around the head through the gills and was trailing 0.5m of line behind the shark which still had bait and hooks attached. The situation was severe and if the line remained, the shark faced a certain death. Even though white sharks are a protected species in South Africa, they are still targeted by shore-based fishermen (i.e. Leon Bekker case) and 30 great white sharks are killed every year in the KZN Sharks Board nets.

Wilfred Chivell, owner of Marine Dynamics and founder of the Trust, immediately contacted the Department of Oceans & Coasts and within 48 hours, Oceans and Coasts had deployed a team of researchers, deck hands, and Two Oceans Aquarium collections fishermen to Gansbaai. Chivell was very grateful for the governments support. Often, government departments are so overwhelmed with other issues that they can rarely assist with individual cases like this, so I was pleased to see the quick reaction of the Department of Oceans & Coasts and Two Oceans Aquarium to send out an extremely skilled crew to help this shark.

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Marine evening with Richard Peirce

February 07, 2013 by dyertrust

richard pierceIt takes passion and commitment to make changes. Richard Peirce of Shark Conservation Society (UK) and the Shark Trust (UK) together with his wife Jacqui has made it his lifes work to be a nuisance by addressing conservation issues with governments around the world. At the marine evening hosted by Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises, he shared more on his latest projects and his efforts to protect the oceans apex predator. Richard has also been instrumental in starting the Save Bantamsklip petition after he heard of the possible placement of a nuclear power station. He spends a few months each year in South Africa, enjoying the warmer months and our magnificent wildlife.

His documentary trailer The Fin Trail highlights the issue of shark finning across the world and that all markets have one ultimate destination the Far East. Funding to complete the documentary has been limited and the project continues to evolve in working together with the Chinese to address the issue and change perceptions. A difficult and seemingly impossible task but more and more efforts are being made in this area by many.

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Faces of Need Penguin Project- Making a difference?

January 17, 2013 by dyertrust

faces of need penguins

With a conservation status of Endangered, and few remaining colonies in tact along the South African and Namibian coastline, it is inspiring to see to what lengths businesses will go to make a difference in the lives of the African Penguin.

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Running against extinction

January 04, 2013 by dyertrust

When a species reaches a decline rate of 80% over the last 50 years, someone should take note and do something about it! That someone has come in the form of a 35 year old, super energetic and inspirational man, by the name of Dave Chamberlain.
He is aiming to run 2 700km from Walvis Bay, in Namibia, all along the coast to St. Croix Island in Port Elizabeth. Averaging approximately 28km per run, he will reach this goal in a total of 95 days.

The route Dave follows will take him along the historical breeding range of the African Penguin, and he will be passing the last few existing colonies on this adventure. African Penguins are facing extinction, some believe this could happen in the next 15 years. I run to create awareness of the plight of this species. Says Dave as he pushes his 3 wheeled pram out of the road. He uses this to carry all of his equipment, a tent, sleeping bag, food and water. This has apparently caused quite some ruckus along the way, some people stopping next to him, ready to give him a mouth full for running in the extreme heat, in far off places, with a baby!

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Whale Shark stranding

December 27, 2012 by dyertrust

whale shark pearly beach
On Thursday, 14th December 2012,
the DICT was notified of a Whale Shark which has stranded in Pearly Beach.

DICT Biologists and Volunteers rushed out to the site to assess the situation. We are always optimistic about strandings, hoping that we can manage to help the animal back into the ocean. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we found a dead 8.5m Whale Shark, estimated at 2 tons, stranded on the high tide mark on Castle Beach.

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MSc Zoology Graduation for Alison Towner

December 27, 2012 by dyertrust

alison towner graduationThe 17th of December 2012 was a very special day for Alison Towner, Senior Biologist for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. She graduated in MSc Zoology from the University of Cape Town, this 2 year project was a research based masters with the department of Zoology and the Animal Demography Department.

Achieving your MSc Zoology is no easy feat especially if your project revolves around the infamous Great White Shark. Her thesis looked at boat based sightings data of Great White Sharks in Gansbaai with environmental influences. Over 6000 sightings were consistently collated and statistically modeled between 2007-2011, which amounted to a solid data set for analysis. The results found white shark sexual composition in the bay is strongly influenced by ENSO (climatic phase) and water temperature.

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DICT Treks along with Trekking for Trash Team

December 06, 2012 by dyertrust

trekking for trashCleaning up the whole South African coastline is a mean feat when you are driving from area to area but doing this whilst walking the whole way?

This is exactly what Michael Baretta and Camilla Howard, from Can Do! Trekking for Trash, want to achieve in a mere 7 months.

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Cape Wagtails born at sea..

December 05, 2012 by dyertrust

wagtails shashfinThe question has come up quite a few times if you are born on a boat, what does your birth certificate say?

Well, in the case of a Cape Wagtail chick, hatched on Slashfin, a shark cage diving vessel operating from Gansbaai it will say born at sea

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How to Track a Great White Shark - the DICT's first mini-documentary

December 03, 2012 by dyertrust

Join the Dyer Island Conservation Trusts marine biologists as they explain the step by step process of manually tagging and tracking great white sharks. This video offers a unique insight into how great white shark tracking is performed in Gansbaai, while explaining its importance to the animals conservation. DICT marine biologist, Oliver Jewell, explains, White sharks are a threatened species we know very little about. This lack of knowledge is often filled by popular media articles often based on sensationalism that offer very little in educational content. By conducting our research and sharing our knowledge freely with the community, we hope to show people the truth about these animals, and in the case of tracking - where they go and why.

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Interns help tag a great white shark

November 26, 2012 by dyertrust

great white shark trackingOne of the most exciting events that an intern here gets to participate in is the tagging of a great white shark. On the morning of 3 November, we were asked to perform this task. Oliver Jewell is the manages our intern group and is also one of the resident biologists studying shark movements and the proposition of home ranges. Our intern team that day was comprised of Matt Smith, Tess Mahoney, Giovanni Vasser, Dawn Watson, and Christopher Algero. Also with us that day was our technology specialist, a highly skilled and fearless man named Ed. We gathered early that day to prepare the vessel, Lwazi, for her brief expedition. Once she was loaded with chum, had her GPS and radio attached, and the tracking hydrophone and computer were on board, Lwazi was driven down to the quay and launched.

After chumming for what did not seem like a very long time our first shark arrived. She was a large shark and would not be our last large shark of the day. Not 20 minutes had passed after her arrival before we were surrounded by sharks of sizes large and small. The duties at this time were important as those on their positions were at their best this day. Tess Mahoney and Dawn Watson were in the crows nest on the lookout for sharks, their words were relayed down to the people on deck so that no one was surprised by a shark. Listening closely to Tess and Dawns warning were Christopher, Matt, and Gio. Chris was on the bait line, it was his job to entertain the sharks and direct them closer to the boat when the time for tagging had come. Ed and Matt were on the chum line, their slosh of fish mush poured expertly from the bucket brought the sharks to the boat. Gio was working the decoy line, his duty was similar to Chris but with a chewy fake seal. Finally last but certainly not least was our skipper and team leader, Oliver Jewell.

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Gigantic calves and thinner mothers!

November 26, 2012 by dyertrust

Gradually as the calves are getting larger (both longer and thicker) their mothers are getting thinner! The mothers do not feed while they are here off the South African coast, but sustain themselves from their thick layer of blubber, which they build up while they are feeding in the Sub-Antarctic waters from January to May.

The southern right whale mother and calf pairs are ruling the bay at the moment! Some days we have had more than 30 pairs. They mainly spend time travelling slowly along kelp, relaxed, rolling, and logging in the same place. The calves are by far the most active and often breach and play around the mother. Maria has been tracking the detailed behaviour of the mother and calves, and they are spending lots of time travelling, milling, or being submerged.

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Tagged White Shark Brenda captured, killed by Mozambique fishermen

October 31, 2012 by dyertrust

It has been confirmed that a 3.6 meter female White Shark tagged 8 March 2012 in Mossel Bay by the non-profit group OCEARCH and a team of leading South African scientists was captured and killed off the coast of Mozambique. Caught in a gill net, the shark given the name Brenda by the OCEARCH team was harvested by village fishermen who gave the meat to the village and sold the fins.

Chris Fischer, along with the scientists who worked with OCEARCH to tag over 30 white sharks off the coast of South Africa, were affected by the news. Said Fischer: "We were all saddened to hear of the demise of Brenda, a magnificent female great white shark." OCEARCH waited on issuing a statement until the facts were clear. Those facts, and the recovery of the transmitter, were obtained thanks to the perseverance of a team assembled by Hannah Darrin from Eyes on the Horizon, a local Mozambique NGO, and led by Gabriel Marime of Bitonga Divers. Jess Williams, another member on the team, took photos of the recovery mission.

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Marine volunteer Week Two

October 30, 2012 by dyertrust

Time really does fly when you are having fun Monday morning and we met up with Oli and got given our intern tasks for the week, then we went out to the shore to collect shark eggs from the local species of benthic elasmobranchs. We collected 169 egg cases in total.

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RIP Brenda

October 25, 2012 by dyertrust

Brenda was fitted with a SPOT tag in Mossel Bay during the Ocearch tagging program held earlier this year. Brenda's full track can be seen below. In the past week, the tag began transmitting repeatedly from a village in Mozambique.

brenda great white pings"Pings over land are not uncommon, not every ping over land means the shark is on the beach," DICT researcher, Michelle Wcisel explains. "However, to get lots of pings in a small area over land is another story."

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Marine Volunteer-best time of your life

October 18, 2012 by dyertrust

Our first day we got to experience life at Marine Dynamics from the point of view of the client, going out on the cage diving boat Slashfin, and doing a cage dive. We saw Southern Right Whales, Great White Sharks, and Cape Fur Seals, before getting settled into our new home. Everyone is really friendly and welcoming.

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Penguin Awareness Day

October 16, 2012 by dyertrust

penguin awarness dayOn Friday we celebrated African Penguin Awareness Day staff dressed in their white VW sponsored shirts and black pants and used this opportunity to create awarenessof the plight of the African Penguin with a 90% decline in population on DyerIsland every bit of help is appreciated!

penguin awarness day

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September Whale Blog

October 16, 2012 by dyertrust

marine volunteersThe theodolite tracking is running like a well-oiled machine and the team has seen sightings of humpback whales almost every week. These animals seem to have changed focus from migration to social behaviour. They spend much more time breaching and their pattern is not as predicable as the migrating humpback whales in July and August.

helpful green snakeA new addition has permanently joined the tracking station at the water tower. A bright green snake has moved in on the rail!! The team put it there to prevent the local white necked crows from decorating the top of the tower and attracting countless tiny flies.

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Voortrekkers focus on the Penguins

October 10, 2012 by dyertrust

voortrekker schoolEvery year we meet the Western Cape Grade 7 Voortrekkers group at Bettys Bay. They have this yearly get together where the focus is on the penguin, the environment and of course having some fun. We saw that they were making the most incredible lighthouse models and heard there was a fashion show out of plastic bags.

We had the opportunity to teach the children more on the work of the trust and share knowledge on our Marine Big 5. We showed them our latest model penguin home and our fishing line bin. There were lots of questions and we were kept on our toes. We gave each a copy of our latest Volkswagen sponsored activity books. They in turn sponsored another penguin home. Thank you Voortrekkers. See you again next year.

Acoustic tagged shark number 10

October 09, 2012 by dyertrust

great white shark anarchyFinally, the long days of Masters thesis writing chaos have subsided for both myself and my co scientist Oliver Jewell, which means more time for acoustic tracking (I never though Id cherish the noise of those continuously pinging radio transmitters so much!). During this month of September we managed to successfully deploy an acoustic tag onto a 3m female great white, just to the right side of her dorsal fin with a tagging pole. We named the shark ANAAR- after a donation from Anya and Arav Goel although she has become affectionately known as Anarchy due to her feisty nature. Boat based tracking then commenced immediately to retrieve GPS positions combined with real time temperature and depth data. Interestingly, the only other shark we have tagged in this size range, moved to Dyer Island where she remained for the duration of the track in February 2010. We have never recorded inshore movement data on a white shark female this size.

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Hermanus whale festival 2012

October 08, 2012 by dyertrust

kid at whale festivalThisis the third whale festival that the Dyer Island Conservation Trust has participated in. The tent space dedicated to the environmental aspect of the festival was greatly increased meaning more conservation organisations could be involved. Under the organisation of Kim Mclean, we exhibited alongside Sanccob, Shark Conservancy, AOCA and many others.

We had the opportunity to talk about our shark research, our African penguin nest project as well as our whale and dolphin studies. We won Best Presentations. Thank you to the judges. Most excitedly, we received the most awesome childrens activity books and birthday calendars from our corporate sponsor, Volkswagen SA. We had just as much fun as the children.

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Visit our biologists at the Hermanus Whale Festival

September 25, 2012 by dyertrust

Once again it is the Hermanus Whale Festival. Hope to see you at the Marine Endangered Species Expo for some interesting talks and displays.

See the programme below or go

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International coastal clean up day

September 19, 2012 by dyertrust

What a beautiful day to be on the beach and doing some good. After meeting at the Great White House for a briefing on dos and donts of beach clean ups the team of about 50 headed off to Romans Bay, an area we were soon to discover is full of litter. The younger children from Flower Valley Early Learning Centre did the Kleinbaai harbour area.

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Killer whales in Dyer Island area

September 14, 2012 by dyertrust

What is that? Is it splashes from a boat? Is it the wind coming in? NO! It is hundreds of common dolphins swimming into the bay!!!

From the top of the water tower we can see up to 15km on a good day with clear visibility. On this unique day in August we spotted a pod of common dolphins 11 km away. The pod stretched more than 1 km. We alerted the whale watching boat and directed them to the sighting. They called us back shortly afterwards and reported that besides the dolphins they saw 7-8 killer whales hunting the dolphins. This is a known behaviour along South African coasts, but has never been observed in our Dyer Island area. In fact this is only the second time that killer whales have been sighted from the whale watching boat since we started in 2000. So the excitement level was high and the DVD was watched over and over again in the offices in the afternoon.

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Wilfred Chivell wins environmental award

August 27, 2012 by dyertrust

Wilfred Chivell Environmental AwardOwner of Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, Dyer Island Cruises Whale Watching and founder of Dyer island Conservation Trust, Wilfred Chivell, was rewarded for his conservation efforts this week when receiving the Overstrand Mayors Annual Environmental Conservation Award.

Wilfred is raising the bar in a competitive shark cage diving industry that could be used solely for commercial gain and at personal cost to Wilfred, both companies are leaders, using the time spent at sea to benefit the understanding of the marine environment and actively facilitating research.

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Magnificent humback whales

August 16, 2012 by dyertrust

southern right whaleThe humpback whales have been magnificent this July! By passing through the area as cargo trains they blew our minds in how precise and predicable they re-surface. It has been an absolutely pleasure to track them from the water tower!

Another great pleasure is that the southern right whales have been observed on each and every tracking trip from the end of July. So we can say for sure that they have returned to the area for the season.

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Dead shark dissection results

August 05, 2012 by dyertrust

great white sharkThe Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) retrieved a dead white shark from the shore of Dyer Island on 19 June 2012. The shark had no external signs of stress or markings that could suggest any cause of death. It was then transported to Cape Town by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) for a later dissection.

On 2 August 2012, the DEA and DICT met in Cape Town to conduct an autopsy on the deceased shark. The male measured 3.8 meters in length and weighed 507kg with a protruding abdominal cavity. Upon dissection, six Cape fur seals were removed from the stomach as well as three Cape fur seal skulls. Three of the six seals were 2-5 year old juveniles while the other three were young of the year pups. The six seals were at the same stage of digestion, suggesting they had been eaten within the same amount of time.

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Susan Dippenaar visits us

August 01, 2012 by dyertrust

susan dippenaar visitIn July, Professor Susan Dippenaar, a parasite expert from the University of Limpopo, paid Dyer Island Conservation Trust another visit here in Kleinbaai. She is a world-leading expert on a group of copepod syphonostomatoids for which elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) act as hosts.

A lab was set-up on site for Prof Dippenaar and her two Masters students and they quickly got to work dissecting specimens of small, endemic sharks, the puffadder shy shark and pyjama catshark as well as soup fin and cow sharks. These sharks are still commercially harvested in the area so it is important for us to learn as much as possible from each animal. The whole body of each shark is scrutinized paying particular attention to gills and noses which were removed and then we watched their painstaking work as they searched for parasites, literally with a fine-toothed comb. The interns and volunteers also had the chance to dissect the rest of the sharks bodies and discovered that two individuals were carrying mature eggs, better known as mermaids purses. These are now in an aquarium, still healthy and in the process of development.

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Dissection on smaller shark species

August 01, 2012 by dyertrust

marine volunteersDue to the fact that the weather has had a mind of its own over the past few days, we at DICT have taken it upon ourselves to provide our volunteers not only with interesting facts about sharks and other marine organisms, but also with an in-depth insight into how they function!

Here at the DICT headquarters we witnessed a dissection take place on some of our smaller shark species, not the Great White! We dissected two different shark species; a striped catshark also known as a pyjama shark and a puffadder shyshark. It was truly a phenomenal experience for both staff and volunteers alike. For some it was the first time being part of a dissection and therefore a few green faces were present amongst us. The volunteers however did not leave it to the experts; they were very hands-on and inquisitive! What made this shark dissection even more special was the fact that both female sharks were baring eggs. Our volunteers definitely gained more insight into the inner workings of sharks and the more you understand something the less room for fear remains!

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Giant Petrel Rescue

July 20, 2012 by dyertrust

Giant petrel rescueA team of DICT staff collected another Giant Petrel this week, this time the bird was found swimming around Kleinbaai harbour with an injury to the right wing. Dickie Chivell of Dyer Island Cruises braved the cold water and managed to catch the bird using a net. The bird was taken care of by an experienced team of people overnight and sent through to SANCCOB the next day. Unfortunately the bird sustained a fractured wing and as such had to be euthanized.

Rare sightings like this are always a reminder about the diversity found in the greater Dyer island area.

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Cleaning up with DICT

July 20, 2012 by dyertrust

DICT Beach clean upCleaning up with DICT and the Overstrand Municipality Gansbaai
Dyer Island Conservation Trust recently hosted a young dynamic group of students from the USA who assisted in a beach cleanup at Frankskraal beach. We where fortunate enough to have Benjamin Kondokter from the Overstrand Municipality join us and impart his valuable knowledge.

Mandelas birthday followed the next day and what better way to pay tribute than to clean up our beautiful country. Once again the municipality and DICT joined forces and used their 67 minutes to collect rubbish at Romans Bay. This beach has three dedicated fishing line bins which Benjamin was involved in placing so it was very distressing to find a seagull alive but with his foot entangled in fishing line. Thankfully, Benjamin was able to free the bird.

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Home Renovations at Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

July 17, 2012 by dyertrust

Dyer Island conservation Trust and Marine Dynamic volunteers joined forces with Sanparks Boulders Beach staff and volunteers to do a bit of home maintenance.

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The Southern right whales are back

July 16, 2012 by dyertrust

Breaching humpback whales, feeding groups of Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins and southern right whales returning for the season These are some of the amazing sightings the theodolite tracking team and the guests on the Whale Whisperer have been experiencing in June.

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Amy's most challenging aspects

July 09, 2012 by dyertrust

great white sharkWhat has been the most challenging aspect of your project?

There is one glaringly obvious challenge with this project and that is not getting your equipment damaged or eaten by a great white shark, owner of the most famous and notorious jaws in nature and popular culture. On the flipside you dont want a shark to injure its mouth if it does try bite your gear. Using a pole-mounted camera/laser rig has its advantages: I dont have to take up a spot in the cage on every trip, and thus I have some flexibility in where I aim it. Slashfin has an amazing set-up where I can be posted onto a specially designed platform, safely harnessed out of the way; I call it the Shark Shelf. Its located on the side of the boat, conveniently away from most of the chum particles. However on an overcast day, it can be quite nerve-wracking. Even with polarized sunglasses and preparedness for the unexpected, one cannot deny that white sharks are cunning predators with incredible camouflage, and very difficult to see when the glare gives the water a mirror-like appearance. Ive had a fair few heart palpitations at the sudden appearance of a great white face near my rig. On these days I sit with the rig out of great white sharkthe water, to be on the safe side, only submerging it when a shark I can see swims by. This is less than ideal though because submerging the rig momentarily creates bubbles which obscure the cameras view of the shark (shoals of mullet can be a similar inconvenience). If Im too slow off the mark I miss capturing footage (ie. data) of most of the body. The curiosity of certain individuals about the new shiny metal object, in addition to the usual bait and decoy, is undeniable, and on a clear, sunny day, can be comedic rather than terrifying; a white shark doing a double-take is quite something!

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Amy shares results of her study

June 26, 2012 by dyertrust

What has been the most unexpected result of your study?

great white sharksThree weeks in, I now have over 9 hours of underwater footage of white sharks visiting Slashfin. Some no-sea days due to bad weather have given me the chance to start analysing my footage, which involves extracting stills from the video and cataloging the sharks by keywords. It is important to do this so I do not repeat shark observations by mistake, and I can add notes on parasite presence, sex, and wounding to the photos. I basically stare at hundreds of images of white sharks trying to decipher unique individual markings to use for identification. After a few hours, white and grey markings on sharks all start to look the same, but with sufficient tea breaks my mini-catalogue is taking shape.

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Thank you Tami

June 26, 2012 by dyertrust

The best compliment of our volunteer programme are those that return year
after year. Tami Kaschke from Nebraska, US has been visiting us since 2009.

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DICT involved in Great White Shark recovery

June 22, 2012 by dyertrust

dead great white sharkOn Wednesday 20 June 2012, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust ( in Gansbaai was alerted to a stranded white shark on the shore of Dyer Island by commercial cage dive operator White Shark Projects. The first attempt at recovery late Thursday afternoon was halted by strong winds and large swells. The second attempt early Thursday 21 June was a success.

Alison Towner, DICT Marine biologist, explains, The shark was a large 3.5-4.0m male. To have a white shark wash on shore Dyer Island is a very rare event. We are unsure of the cause of death, as there are no apparent external injuries or markings. Excluding abrasions from the rugged shore, the shark's body was in immaculate condition, his fins and jaws intact. There are no research tags on this shark and we have not yet identified him in our database.

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Introducing our 2nd Leeds Uni masters candidate

June 20, 2012 by dyertrust

Lauren Duffield - University of Leeds

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Beginning of Southern right whale season

June 13, 2012 by dyertrust

southern right whaleWhale blog 30th of May 2012

The first southern right whales have been observed at Pearly Beach, which makes us all very excited!

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Introducing our first Leeds Uni masters candidate

June 12, 2012 by dyertrust

Ill have to go with the old clich and say, Ive loved sharks since I can remember. My parents are still trying to fathom where it started. I grew up in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England; a city not particularly well known for producing marine biologists.

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Energy expo

June 11, 2012 by dyertrust

A group of top students from Masakhane Primary visited with their science teacher, courtesy of transport provided by Dyer Island Conservation Trust, which also sponsors the Gansbaai node of the WCC Eco-Schools the Energy Expo in Gansbaai. Read more in the link below.

Read more about the Whale Coast Energy Expo

Trust hosts leading scientists

June 11, 2012 by dyertrust


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Past volunteer blog

June 05, 2012 by dyertrust

'My adventure volunteering in South Africa at the Great White Shark Conservation project was a fantastic experience. Being able to see these beautiful creatures up close was very exciting!'

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Beach clean up with Dibanisa

June 01, 2012 by dyertrust


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African Marine Mammal Colloquium hosted at DICT

April 23, 2012 by dyertrust

University of PretoriaThe AMMC will be co-hosted by the University of Pretoria's Mammal Research Institute and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust . It will be structured as part workshop, part conference with all meals provided communally as part of the event in order to maximise opportunities for networking.

Accommodation will be shared with your fellow delegates in holiday homes close to the venue.

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Smooth Sailing Success for OCEARCH in Gansbaai

April 16, 2012 by dyertrust

First Hand Insights on the South African Collaborative Shark Study

great white sharkOn Thursday the 12th of April, the vessel OCEARCH began the second leg of their white shark research expedition in the area of Gansbaai. Over the course of two days the team managed to successfully attract in and satellite tag 8 individual great white sharks in the area ranging in size from 2.5m to over 4.55m total length.

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Keep on the lookout for an Elephant on the beach!

April 10, 2012 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust ( was informed by the Overstrand Municipality of a live bull (male) Elephant seal on Hawston Beach on Friday 16 and Saturday 24 March.

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Great White Shark legend returns

February 27, 2012 by dyertrust

Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust are excited to announce that legendary shark Slashfin has been spotted again, and better yet, tagged.

I couldnt believe it when I saw such a massive shark swimming past Lwazi, and that it was Slashfin was a huge bonus, said Marine Dynamics marine biologist and resident DICT scientist Oliver Jewell. I have always wanted to tag Slashfin and this was my big chance!"

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Stranded Rockhopper penguin rescued

February 06, 2012 by dyertrust

Rockhopper penguinThe Dyer Island Conservation Trust was alerted of a stranded penguin in Pearly Beach (27 Jan). This is unfortunately not an unusual call, but this time it was a very unusual penguin! Instead of being an African penguin from nearby Dyer Island, this was a Rockhopper penguin. It is unusual but not rare to see these penguins wash up on our beaches, and this particular individual was in the process of moulting.

Moulting occurs every year, and it is during this time that penguins lose their feathers and regrow them for the next year. It can make the penguins look a bit sickly, but in fact it is during this time that most penguins are at their most robust as they binge eat before their moulting period. This is because during their moult, they can not feed as they lack the protective waterproof feathers.

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Exciting Donations for Shark Research

January 27, 2012 by dyertrust

great white sharkWell January 2012 has certainly kicked off well for shark research. Shark clients of Marine Dynamics have continued to be generous with two notable donations that we just have to tell you about.

First Elias and Alexandre Jacobson from Sweden donated R10 000 (66 blocks) and then Rita Myers of the USA donated R15 000 (100 blocks). Rita is an educator working closely with racoons for Project Wildlife one of them named Oli (perhaps after our biologist Oliver?)

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Volunteer feedback

January 25, 2012 by dyertrust

Christian, our volunteer that was herewiththe Rolex scholarshipwrites about hisexperience with us. click here to read more

Increasing Occurrence of Stingrays on White Shark Cage Diving Trips

January 25, 2012 by dyertrust

stingrays on White Shark Cage Diving TripsThere has been an increased amount of stingray activity during shark cage diving trips on our boat, Slashfin. The first occurrence was on the 6th of January on our morning trip. We had a stingray (about 1.5m in length) come up to our bait line and nearly attempt to take a bite (the front of the disc actually came out of the water). While this was going on, there was a 2 meter Great White Shark interested in our seal decoy (only about 8-10 meters away). The two animals turned and swam towards each other until they were about 1 meter away, at which point they both seemed to get spooked and swam off in opposite directions. This interaction is the first known of its kind, a surface interaction between a great white shark and a stingray. Since this day we have noticed the rays coming up to the surface more often, on one occasion coming close enough to the back of the boat that we were able to get underwater footage of it free swimming.

Increasing Occurrence of Stingrays on White Shark Cage Diving TripsAfter examining photographs and videos of the rays we have seen, it seems that the species that has been visiting us is known as a short-tail stingray (Dasyatis brevicaudata). It is a very common species, and it is found here in South Africa. It has been seen the shallows in both New Zealand and Australia, but is commonly found at depths of 180m or more. It has been seen in both shallow in New Zealand and Australia, but is commonly found at depths of 180m or more. Given that knowledge, it has been documented to move into shallow waters with rising tides, which could be one reason why we have seen them some days and not others. The short-tail stingray is the largest species of ray in the world, growing upwards of 2 meters in length (the ones we have seen have been between 1 and 1.5 meters respectively). This species is primarily benthic (bottom-dwelling) in nature, feeding mainly on benthic fish and invertebrates, but it is also known to move up into the water column regularly where it will feed on fish and other small animals.

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January 15, 2012 by dyertrust

In March 2010, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust submitted a letter of concerns regarding the proposed nuclear power station at Bantamsklip, just over 22kilometres from our head office.

Having attended public participation meetings, a real concern exists that Bantamsklip (believed to be the 3rd preferred site) is definitely earmarked for development.

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The Trust supports rescue and rehabilitation centre Penguins Eastern Cape

January 09, 2012 by dyertrust

african penguin taggedThe passionate and dedicated team at Penguins Eastern Cape (Cape St. Francis) led by Trudi Malan had their hands full this festive season. Every year as the penguins go into their annual moult lasting about three weeks, they are unable to swim and feed so any late breeders are forced to abandon their chicks. These chicks are sent to the rehabilitation centre to be hand fed until they are ready to be released. This chick bolstering programme is part of the conservation management plan. With the African penguin being classified as endangered and only around 22 000 breeding pairs left, every penguin counts. This past year has seen 400 penguins at the centre from St Croix Island and Bird Island. Most of the penguins have now been released to date 160 birds are still at the centre.

rescue and rehabilitation centre Penguins Eastern CapeWith the help of the donations the Dyer Island Conservation Trust receives we were able to pass on the goodwill and send Trudi and her team R10 000 to help towards the costs of care for these juvenile penguins. At this time 100kgs of sardines per day can be consumed.
The centre has a viewing area for the public where they can see some favourites such as Roxy, Goofy, the committed couple Nip & Tuck (penguins are monogamous) and the blind Stevie.

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Lauren Waller awarded her PhD

January 06, 2012 by dyertrust

The Trust congratulates Dr Lauren Waller on being awarded her PhD for her work on The African Penguin Spheniscus demersus: conservation and management issues.

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Leatherback stranding

December 17, 2011 by dyertrust


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Shark Entertainment Inc. donates to DICT

December 15, 2011 by dyertrust

For Dyer Island Conservation Trust's senior biologist, Alison Towner, Christmas came early. Once they wrapped up shooting for 2012s Discovery Channel Shark Week, Jeff Kurr of Shark Entertainment Inc. donated the Shark Spy system. Shark Spy is an underwater HD panning/zooming camera that can be mounted at the bottom of the sea to monitor activity. Make sure you check out next year's SharkWeek to see the incredible footage Shark Spy can capture!

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Baby Cape fur seal stranded at Danger Point

December 15, 2011 by dyertrust

During the month of December, we often get many reports of stranded Cape fur seal pups. Pupping time is in full swing and the massive (+300kg) adult males are still on the island causing chaos defending their territories from rival males and it is during that chaos that many pups are kicked off the island. Usually when we receive reports of stranded pups, they are often beyond our help either by injuries or they have perished during their long journey to the beach.

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Whale Blog Launched

December 07, 2011 by dyertrust

The first important steps have been taken and the monitoring of the cetaceans in the Greater Dyer Island area has begun. This blog will keep you informed about the progress of the PhD project.

Katja Vinding PetersenKatja Vinding Petersen is a student at the Univeristy of Pretoria, Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology & Entomology and she is the driving force in the project.

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Volunteer update

November 29, 2011 by dyertrust

As this year is almost to a close, we were very fortunate to have such wonderful volunteers and interns this year. From 18 year old gape year to 68 year old retired war veteran as well as soldiers and marines from the USA and Afghanistan to some that accidently stumbled onto our programme. Some were here for only a week as this is the only time their vacation allows and some were here for a month and extended for a another couple of months.

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European Union proposes ban on shark finning

November 29, 2011 by dyertrust

The European Commission presented draft legislation forbidding shark finning by all vessels fishing in EU waters, and all EU-registered vessels operating anywhere in the world.

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DICT's internship programme gets promoted in U.S.A

November 29, 2011 by dyertrust

DICT Marine Biologist and Intern coordinator Michelle Wcisel set sails for her homeland of the USA in September to promote the DICT's internship program. Michelle gave talks in Michigan and Florida to very enthusiastic students who have already started applying for internship positions for next winter. It was also a great opportunity to meet with some great minds and talk to many professors about their research. "I think it was a great trip - not only were the students super excited, but I got to learn more about what the USA is up to research-wise. It really was a blast!"

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VW partners with DICT

November 16, 2011 by dyertrust

vw logoThe Trust is very excited to announce that Volkswagen South Africa has recently decided to sponsor our work, first by the sponsorship of two vehicles and by an intensive marketing campaign encouraging the public to support our various research and conservation projects.

Volkswagens vision is to become a company with meaning and impact in terms of environmental consciousness, and an industry leader in environmental responsibility. We believe our partnership and support of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust will play a critical role in assisting them to conserve the rich marine life in the Gansbaai area, said Mike Glendinning, Director: Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Group South Africa.

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Effects of Smart Position Only (SPOT) Tag Deployment on White Sharks

November 16, 2011 by dyertrust


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Marine biologist, Alison Towner visits the U.K

November 15, 2011 by dyertrust

During the last two weeks of October, I was lucky enough to visit the UK, courtesy of Marine Dynamics and The Dyer Island Conservation Trust. My aim, as with previous years, was to promote shark diving and South Africa as a destination to the British diving community at the Dive show in Birmingham.

The weather in Britain was surprisingly mild this year, with only the occasional bit of rain. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate the quaint country landscapes we have in the Lancashire area, such contrasting scenery to the dramatic South African views I am now so well accustomed to!

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Blue Flag Beach Programme in partnership with DICT

November 15, 2011 by dyertrust

Katja Vinding Petersen and fishing line binThe Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) in association with Overstrand Municipality, Gansbaai Administration established the Fishing Line Recovery Program (FLRP) in 2010 along the Gansbaai shoreline, with specially designed disposal bins. This innovative project aims to reduce the severe environmental damage caused by discarded fishing line on our coastline. Monofilament fishing line is non-biodegradable and enters the marine environment where it entangles wildlife, is mistakenly ingested by birds and animals, resulting in injury or death, and is also hazardous to boaters and swimmers.

By increasing public awareness about the negative impacts that fishing line debris has on marine life, water quality, and human welfare, DICT hopes to reduce the amount of fishing line entering and remaining in the marine environment, as well as to increase the amount of fishing line being recycled. Anglers and beach walkers are encouraged to recycle or dispose of their used fishing line at these bins.

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The Ripple Effect supports Great White Shark Research

November 15, 2011 by dyertrust

ripple effect swimThe Ripple Effect runs on a simple idea that you can make a difference by doing what you love. Started by Simon Borchert and Toni Enderli, they lead a group of passionate swimmers by arranging various events. On the 22nd October, they hosted the only organised 10km swim in South Africa - the Shelley Point Deep Blue Invitational.

This event provided the opportunity for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and eco-tourism partner Marine Dynamics to share their research on the Great White Shark. Marine biologist Oliver Jewell was able to share with the swimmers the way in which the way in which shark cage diving done by Marine Dynamics presentationcan help keep this species protected and change perceptions. Oliver shared the work done of identifying individual sharks through fin IDs. This helps build a population estimate crucial when it is believed that only 3500-5000 great white sharks are left. Oliver was also able to share information on their incredible wound healing abilities as well as the exciting acoustic tagging and tracking programme. The sharks show seasonal patterns of behaviour - feeding on the Cape fur seal in winter then moving inshore to the shallows during summer when more interactions with people can occur. The reasons for this behaviour are not entirely clear and the research is aimed at understanding this behaviour taking into account the influence of environmental parameters such as water temperature, oxygen and salinity.

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The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) supports DICT

November 15, 2011 by dyertrust

National LotterDICT was recently awarded a grant of R562 500 (Five hundred and sixty two thousand five hundred rand) from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF). The funding has been granted to help with operational costs including salaries and web administration; support great white shark research; the development and printing of educational brochures and grow the craft project through more active management.

The DICT is involved in valuable research of the legendary apex predator, the great white shark, an important part of the oceans ecosystem. There remain an estimated 3500-5000

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2011 International Coastal Cleanup

November 15, 2011 by dyertrust

international coastal cleanupHere are the results of the South African 2011 International Coastal Cleanup (click on picture to download results). We have seen growth in numbers and our impact and it is only thanks to people wanting to make a difference. Marine debris serves as the scream of a social problem of littering and not caring. This years data echo more formal data that packaging from the fast food industry is growing at an alarming rate.

A source of waste that is also concerning is the littering at areas where young children congregate (schools etc.) and this year saw us for the first time tackling issues of litter on school grounds.

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September 19, 2011 by dyertrust

Isa Carstens Academy supports theAfrican penguin. Known in Stellenbosch for their black and white uniform, they long ago earned the nickname of penguins.

With their latest donation to the Trust of R11 852 (a collection from students matched by the Academy), they now own 40 penguin homes. The Trust established the housing project for penguins in 2006 and to date over 1000 nests have been placed on Dyer Island, Robben Island, Boulders, Stony Point, Ichaboe and more. Donations also go toward supporting valuable studies on the penguins and to their rescue and rehabilitation.

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August is a busy month with our volunteers and interns

September 18, 2011 by dyertrust

August was a great month for the volunteers and interns. We had loads of sea time and little time on land.

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August 29, 2011 by dyertrust

On Monday 29th August, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust team led by Wilfred Chivell attended to a beached deceased whale at Romans Bay, Gansbaai.

The whale was a female Southern right whale measuring 14 meters. Her uterus was prolapsed, after having given birth. This causes inflammation in the animal and is believed to be the cause of death. Measurements and samples such as skin and blubber were taken. No reported sightings of the calf.

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August 28, 2011 by dyertrust

Every year Hermanus celebrates the arrival of theSouthern right whales, that come to our waters to mate and calve, by having a large whale festival. This is a great opportunity to watch the whales from land and by boat. Already onDyer Island Cruisesboat Whale Whisperer we are seeing large mating groups off Pearly Beach.

Festival organizers sponsor aMarine Big 5 Conservation Marqueefor the Trust. We will be hosting a series of talks and childrens activities.

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August 27, 2011 by dyertrust

Every year close to 100 million sharks lose their lives. Mostly killed for their fins alone which are seen as a delicacy in China and southeast Asia.

Richard Pierce of the Shark Conservation Society and the Shark Trust in the UK together with Steve Bowes and Simon Spear is working on a documentary entitled The Fin Trail which highlights this trade from beginning to end around the world.

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August 26, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was very excited to be chosen as a beneficiary of the Splash Auction event held on the 28th May 2011 in celebration of their 2nd birthday.

SPLASH Magazine is the official glossy Art & Lifestyle Magazine of Hermanus and the surrounding areas with a distribution of 6000 copies free to the public.

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Filming with Discovery - Air Jaws

August 25, 2011 by dyertrust

Senior marine biologist,Alison TownerofThe Dyer Island Conservation Trustin Gansbaai recently teamed up with Shark experts and naturalists Chris and Monique Fallows ofApex Shark Expeditions.

Together with Discovery channels Jeff Kurr who has directed and produced each one of Shark Weeks top rated Air Jaws documentaries with Chris Fallows co hosting, since back in the early 1990s, their mission was to film Great white sharks at Seal Island, in False Bay (near Cape Town).
What a privilege it was to be invited along on this project, says Towner. From a scientific perspective, the experience I had in False Bay was really valuable for me. I have studied white shark behaviour atDyer Islandover the past five years, but seeing them in a different environment and recognizing sharks I know from fin identification was fascinating. Advances in filming technology can really benefit white shark research, as it allows us to capture such fine detail on the sharks and how they behave.
Ultimately, the more we understand thesharksand their behaviour, the better we can monitor them. This is crucial in South Africa where the numbers of water users increase every year. There are less than 5000, possibly as few as 3,500 great white sharks on the planet today.
The documentary is to be aired next year as the opening show for the USAs Shark Week.

In the meantime, you can watch the Great White Invasion - which airs on the Discovery channel on 31st of July. The show focuses on the theories behind why white sharks use inshore environments and filming was done on board the Trusts research boat,Lwazi, in the shallows of Gansbaai.
Also catch the USAs TODAY show on the 29th of July, where the presenter, Peter Alexander and Jeff Kurr go cage diving withMarine Dynamics Shark Toursand talk about both upcoming documentaries, and discuss perceptions of the public towards sharks.

Read the shark blog and support shark research

Follow Alisonsblog here. The Trust is reliant on donations and we are incredibly grateful to all our donors, those that have visited us or donated online. Your support is highly valued and we thank you for making ourshark researchpossible.
Please help us by making a donation


August 24, 2011 by dyertrust

Anyone who has visited Dyer Island Cruises orMarine Dynamicshas been regaled with tales of penguins and sharks by our story teller and passionate fundraiser Claudine.

And so in appreciation of all that Claudine does around here to raise money for the projects, a recently tagged great white shark has been named after her - a 3.3m female.

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August 23, 2011 by dyertrust

Our biologist,Katja Vinding Petersen, is busy with preparations for her whale and dolphin study in the Gansbaai area. Katja is carrying out her PhD through the University of Pretoria with the help of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

Katja is from Denmark and a recent article by journalist Lene Johansen in the Politken, the Danish national newspaper highlights her history and work.Click hereandhereto read the article in Danish.

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Lauren Waller will graduate with a PhD on 16 December

August 22, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is pleased to announce that Lauren Waller will formally graduate at the end of year graduation ceremony, on 16 December at 10h00. The Trust helped support Laurens studies and continues to support further studies on the African penguins of Dyer Island.

Text below courtesy of Prof. Les Underhill

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Spoilt for choice!

August 14, 2011 by dyertrust

I think the sharks must have started reading ourMarine Dynamicsnewsletters. In July we left off hoping that our sightings would improve and that we would see at least one more spell of activity at Dyer Island again before winter season draws to an end. After a very dry sharky phase at the Island in July, just as we hoped, a new set of fins appeared there this month! The nice thing is, the sharks seem to have divided themselves between the inshore reefs of Joubertsdam and the island leaving us seriously spoilt for choice on where to anchor!

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A busy July for Alison Towner and the Great white sharks

July 26, 2011 by dyertrust

July 2011

Studying great white sharks for the last five years in Gansbaai, I have often found myself out at sea wondering just what the sharks are up to on the other side of the headland- in False Bay. I have often imagined the same sharks I am seeing in Gansbaai and how they may behave if they were to swim around the corner and continue west along the coastline to the famous Seal Island. Essentially, they would inhabit a completely different bay system. Do they hunt differently- and are the sharks visiting Dyer Island able to compete with any of the seemingly huge breaching beauties Chris Fallows has timelessly captured on film there?

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Comments from our Marine Volunteers

July 22, 2011 by dyertrust

Some comments from our past Marine volunteers and Interns:

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Lauren Waller will graduate with a PhD on 16 December

July 04, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is pleased to announce thatLauren Wallerwill formally graduate at the end of year graduation ceremony, on 16 December at 10h00. The Trust helped support Laurens studies and continues to support further studies on the endangered African penguins of Dyer Island.

Text below courtesy of Prof. Les Underhill
Laurens thesis is entitled The African Penguin Spheniscus demersus: conservation and management issues. This thesis examines the broader conservation issues facing the African Penguin. Through an analyses of aspects of African Penguin population demographics, biology and behaviour, including adult moult phenology and breeding trends, chick condition, adult foraging behaviour and their relationship to pelagic fish stocks, the manner in which the African penguin interacts with the marine environment is examined. Comparisons are made between colonies throughout their distribution, and it is shown that African Penguins at different colonies do not respond to pressures or changes in their environments in a uniform manner, a factor which will have an impact on conservation management decisions.

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Marine volunteers assist with World Oceans Day

June 29, 2011 by dyertrust

World Oceans Day saw the volunteers assisting the Dyer Island ConservationTrust with children from Masakhane School.

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Winter sharks return to the bay

June 27, 2011 by dyertrust

Weve been saying for a while now that the winter white sharks have returned to the bay,but its been nothing like ever before. Four days in succession we have seen at least 20 sharks and the average has been around 12-15 individuals per trip, some days its been almost impossible to count! Were seeing quite a lot of new sharks with some familiar fins from earlier in the season. Betty, Chopper and Wolfie are all still here and our fin IDs are rattling along nicely with some interesting re-sights from previous seasons.

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June 08, 2011 by dyertrust

On World Oceans Day, 8 June,people from all over the globe honour this incredible resource. The theme is Youth-The Next Wave for Change. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust took the opportunity to have an educational lesson on our Marine Big 5 with the Football Foundations Group from Masakhane School. This was the second lesson with this group, the first being a beach cleanup. It is important for our children to fall in love with nature, for what the ocean provides so that in turn they will wish to protect it and the animals that live in it. Biologist Nick Jones took the lesson and this was followed up with a quiz and a colouring in competition and of course some small prizes were on offer. The children were assisted byFootball Foundationsinternational volunteers Boris and Amy together with Lily Upton from Grootbos Foundation.Marine Dynamics volunteerswere also on hand Hannah, JoJanneke, Nick, Frank and Calvin. Some of our volunteers are also working with the eco schools group at Masakhane together with co-ordinator Gina Boysen.

(Thanks to DSB Tours for transport)

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June 07, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust recently led two beach clean ups, both. The first was as part of the Football Foundations educational programme with scholars from Masakhane. Together with Wilfred Chivell, the team eagerly cleaned up a stretch from the Strandveld Museum in Franskraal. This area yielded a full bag of fishing line in under an hour, among other rubbish. Lots of food wrappers, clothing items, bags and bottles.

The second was with the prefects from Gansbaai Academia and the area cleaned was Kleinbaai Harbour. Here the worst offender was cigarette filters with over 400 collected. This combined with a lesson on our marine species and the impacts of marine pollution will hopefully be something this very dynamic team will go on and share with the rest of the school.

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Volunteer Update

June 06, 2011 by dyertrust

The sharks have been amazing this past few months with sometimes up to 20 sharks or more being sighted on one trip. The month of May was very exciting forGreat White Shark Research.

Manuel, from Germany, joined us for the 3rd year. Manuel is a Biology student from The University of Marburg and is currently doing his Bachelors Thesis about the subsurface identification of Great White Sharks in the Dyer Island Region. Together with ourmarine biologists,Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Fasttrax, he is working on achieving his research results. It was also very exciting for this young biologist to meet world renowned shark scientist Dr Leonard Compagno and Afrioceans Conservation Exective Director Lesley Rochat who joined us on Slashfin.

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June 05, 2011 by dyertrust

New research to unravel mysteries Great White Shark begins as population falls to historic lowAs numbers of Great White Sharks reach an all-time low, theDyer Island Conservation Trusthas begun pioneering research to answer vitally important questions about this mysterious apex predator. This work is urgent as theGreat White Sharkis already classified as "vulnerable" to extinction with numbers falling by about 20% every three generations.

Here at Gansbaai, Western Cape - The Great White Shark Capital of the World - our residentmarine biologistshave unique opportunities to conduct some of the world-class research needed to rapidly respond to the crisis. Supported by our partnerMarine Dynamics, this work has already begun in co-operation with South African universities. But funding and sponsorship are urgently needed to allow the studies to continue and expand.

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6th Shark tagged!

June 01, 2011 by dyertrust

Thanks to the generous donations from our clients, we have been able to acoustically tag a 6th shark. The shark, now named Dale, is a 3.5m male that has shed even more new light on the mysteries surrounding the movement patterns of white sharks whilst utilising the Dyer Island system. Our previously tagged shark Zane (see previous blog) displayed some fascinating behaviour whilst patrolling shark alley, offshore of Geyser Rock and some previously unknown sites. Weve now got over 70 hrs of his movements recorded including some very interesting night time tracks. We are very excited to see if Dale displays different behaviour to Zane over the course of his stay at the island or if he chooses to patrol different sites.

Shark of the month

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Marine volunteer shark programme

May 23, 2011 by dyertrust

For shark-lovers, volunteering at our Eco-tourism partner,Marine Dynamicsis the perfect way of getting up close and personal withcarcharodon carcharias, more commonly known as the great white shark. Every trip on Slashfin is unique thanks to the abundance of great whites that come to the surface, while unknowingly putting on a show for tourists. Thanks to the knowledgeable team ofmarine biologistsemployed by Marine Dynamics and the experienced crew on the boat, each visit to Kleinbaai has taught me something new about great whites, as well as various other marine species, such as whales, dolphins, and the importance of conservation.

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May 19, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is proud to be supporting the extension of theOverstrand Conservation FoundationsEco-Schools programme into Gansbaai by donating toward the cost of the co-ordinator, Gina Boysen. Rob Fryer of OCF approached Wilfred Chivell of the Trust. Sharing a joint passion for the education of our local youth, he readily agreed to support. There are three schools involved Masakhane Primary School; Gansbaai Laerskool and Blompark Primary.

Gina is a retired school teacher and has actively supported the Trust since she moved to Gansbaai in 2009. Brenda Walters, Operations Manager for the Trust, readily suggested her to OCF for the role, knowing of her passion for education and the environment.

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May 18, 2011 by dyertrust

The Trust has provided new homes for a colony of 24 African penguin temporarily transferred to the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria while their accommodation at Bayworld in Port Elizabeth is extensively renovated.

Having been transported by plane from the coast the penguins soon moved into their homes donated by the Trust. According to Tracey Shaw, caretaker of African Penguins: "One of our penguin couples, Kemptston and Vanilla, moved straight into one of the nests on the day of arrival, and have been protectively guarding it ever since." Within a few days the other penguins couples were taking a lot of interesting their new property.


May 18, 2011 by dyertrust

World-renowned shark parasitologist, Professor Susan Dippenaar of the University of Limpopo in Polokwane, spent two weeks withMarine Dynamicsand the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Kleinbaai. Hennie Otto (BSc Candidate-University of South Africa), skipper of Marine Dynamics boat, Slashfin, is studying the parasite species and their effects on the great white sharks in the area. All research work that the Trust does is aimed at better understanding our marine species so that they can be better managed therefore ensuring their conservation.

Through this study, Hennie aims to answer the following questions:

  • Does parasite load affect shark behaviour or influence general health e.g. compromising the sharks immune system and allowing viral and fungal infections to establish themselves

  • Do sharks utilise estuarine areas as a fresh water outflow to rid themselves of parasites

  • What percentage of sharks carry parasites

  • Whether long term monitoring of parasitic load on great white sharks can be used as an indicator of environmental health


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May 17, 2011 by dyertrust

New shark research programme launched in South AfricaPioneering research studying the behaviour of Great White Sharks has been launched by a conservation charity, theDyer Island Conservation Trust( at Gansbaai - close to the very tip of Africa.

This world-class programme is being conducted amongst the world's densest population ofGreat White Sharksby our resident team ofmarine biologistsfrom the Trust's research boat Lwazi (Knowledge) .

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May 16, 2011 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is happy to support the initiative of Hayley McLellan, senior bird trainer at the Two Oceans Aquarium and Gabby Harris of Sea World. The Waddle for a Week kicks off on the 23rd May covering a distance of 122kms from Gansbaai to Simonstown ending at the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. The team will be staying at The Great White House on the evening of the 22nd. The Trust wishes them well in this venture created to raise awareness of the endangered African Penguin. Schools along the route have been notified and hopefully this will be a great opportunity for education.

Waddling for a Week
23rd to 28th May 2011
From Gansbaai to Boulders

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May 15, 2011 by dyertrust

A once in a lifetime experience working with whales at the tip of AfricaEvery year from July-December the seas off Dyer Island become home to large numbers of Southern Right whales who have journeyed here from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to breed and calve. Now, a newly introduced scheme offers a limited number of volunteers the rare opportunity to join us in boat-based whale watching and research.

With leaders in whale-watching and conservation,Dyer Island Cruisesthe Trust provides the chance to work with our team, includingmarine biologists, on the first purpose-built whale watching boat in South Africa,Whale Whisperer.

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May 14, 2011 by dyertrust

At 11:00AM 9 April 2011, the Whale Whisperer of Dyer Island Cruises ( witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime sighting found by professional wildlife spotter and Dyer Island Cruises guide, Kira Matiwane. Two Orcas, one male (with the larger dorsal fin) and a sub-adult were milling about the kelp near Danger Point.

Dyer Island Conservation Trust marine biologist, and self-professed Orca fanatic,Michelle Wciselwas lucky to be on-board, It was an incredible experience! Kira and I were so excited we couldn't stop shouting every time they surfaced. It was incredible to be with the true apex predator of the ocean!

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May 13, 2011 by dyertrust

Wilfred Chivell, founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust received a call from Matie Nowens who had found an injuredCape Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capensis)in Gansbaai harbour.

This was a very special find the bird was a true albino with white feathers, pink feet and beak and distinctive red eyes.

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May 12, 2011 by dyertrust

MS Oliva ran aground on Nightingale Island on 16th March 2011 and is leaking oil

As perTristan da Cunha Conservation DepartmentDirector, Trevor Glass - Nightingale has the second largest sea bird population in the world, including the largest concentration of Great Shearwaters in the world - three million pairs in the island group. Nightingale holds more than 100,000 pairs of Northern Rockhopper Penguins, a species found only here and 20,000 pairs of albatrosses including the yellow nose albatross, and 2,000,000 pairs of Broadbill prions. "If we lose Nightingale, we'll lose 99 percent of the shearwater population."

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Shark tagging programme update

April 20, 2011 by dyertrust

March and April have been really exciting months with regards to theDICT white shark tagging programme.

We left off on this blog last time introducing Nina our fourth tagged 2.3m female shark. After tagging her in the shallows at the end of January, she made her way toDyer Islandwhere we managed to gain plenty of interesting hours of tracking data on her. Nina displayed some fascinating behaviour and after spending the whole of February and half of March following her whereabouts in the bay we decided that we finally had enough hours on her. We then successfully managed to retrieve our acoustic transmitter and stored it away for further use. Thanks Nina for a different perspective on what female white sharks can do in the area of Gansbaai!

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Welcome to our Volunteer/Intern blog

March 07, 2011 by dyertrust

We have had and excellent group of volunteers and interns for the month of January stretching from all around the world. We can actually say it was the United Nations in Kleinbaai for this month. There was Noelle -USA, Blair and Ben Australia, Uriel Netherlands, Mairead Ireland, David UK, Nicole USA and Ingo Germany.

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February 28, 2011 by dyertrust

Wilfred Chivell of the Trust attended to a sick Cape Fur Seal. A call was received from Nico Opperman to let us know of the seals plight. On the recommendation of Mike Meyer of Oceans & Coasts, the seal was attended by a local veterinarian Dr Liesel Trollope. Special medication was delivered by courier to numb the seal. Once this was done and we were able to closely examine the seal, it was established that it had abscesses in both eyes. The abscesses had done such damage that caused blindness, making it impossible for the seal to survive in the wild. The approximately seven-year male seal was then unfortunately euthanized.

Sadly, not every rescue attempt is successful but the learning experience created for the team may prove invaluable for a future rescue.Wilfred Chivellthanks the public for their prompt reporting of animal injuries.

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February 27, 2011 by dyertrust

Alison Towner and I attended the Southern African Shark and Ray Meeting hosted by the KZN Sharks Board in mid February. The first meeting of its kind, it offered the opportunity for scientists from across the country and Mozambique the chance to present their research and share ideas.

The conference also provided networking opportunities second only to the white sharks symposium in Hawaii last year whichAlisonandHennieattended. We were able to not only put the Dyer Island Conservation Trust on the map as a major player in the research and future of the South African white shark with quality presentations on our own research but also discuss potential future collaborations with the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) and a national database of fin IDs withSave Our Seas,Oceans Research,Bay World,Oceans and Coastsand the KZN Sharks Board. We hope this collaboration will answer the question of how many white sharks we have in South Africa?

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February 26, 2011 by dyertrust

This February we have had yet another rare visitor here a juvenile femaleelephant seal. The condition of the animal was good with a slight injury visible around its neck, possible caused by fishing line. Pictures were taken forphotogrammetry.

Marine biologist,Katja Vinding Petersen(2 Febuary) I went back at 20.15 and it was still there. At first it looked dead but then I was relieved to see it start moving. The tide was very low at that time and it would had gone back in this morning around 2-3 oclock. The next morning around 7.30 the seal was no longer on the beach.

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February 25, 2011 by dyertrust

The Trust received a call from Jason Stonehewer about the sighting of an unusual seal on Pearly Beach. It turned out to be a rare visitor to these shores, aCrabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus). These seals are very common in Antarctica. They have specialized teeth to filtrate the water and contrary to their name, feed on krill in the water column. This is the same crab eater seal which was seen at Lamberts Bay over the past weekend.

Found alive but died on the beach, it was a male, 185cm long. Photos and measurements will be sent to Oceans and Coasts and the Mammal Research Institute (MRI) for their records.

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February 24, 2011 by dyertrust

On the 7th of January our eco-tourism partner,Marine Dynamicshad the pleasure of hostingRichard Pierceontheir new cage diving vessel Slashfin, together with his grandson Oliver.

Richard is the founder and Chairman of theShark Conservation Society SCS- a UKbased non-profit shark research organisation. He is also the author ofSharks of the British Seasand Jaws Britain, and has been promoting elasmobranch conservation in and around the UK for literally decades. Richard was keenly interested in the work of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, most especially theshark researchbeing done in the Bay.

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Shark sightings

February 21, 2011 by dyertrust

February 2011 has been an excellent month. We have encountered some spectacular white shark sightings and a drastic improvement on shark numbers from December/January. Interestingly, white shark presence has only been documented atDyer Islandand not in the normal shallow water reef system of Joubertsdam. The only female shark we saw in the shallows this month was a 2.4m individual (Nina) who we subsequently tagged as part of theDICT research project. After the transmitter was attached to the shark, we tracked her movements continuously for 8 hours where she proceeded to move directionally away from the shallows towards Dyer Island. She has remained within the vicinity of the island until this date!

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December 23, 2010 by dyertrust

Once again, our team was called into action on the 23rdDecember 2010, to attend a stranding this time for a particularly unique animal. Was it a whale? Was it a shark? Both!

A 6.0-6.5 meter maleWhale sharkwashed ashore nearPearly Beach. Whale sharks do not normally occur in these waters because they prefer warm tropical waters such as Mozambique and Madagascar, not the frigid waters ofGansbaai!

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December 11, 2010 by dyertrust

Saturday 11th December 2010 marked the first annual Bronzie Competition, with theTwo Oceans Angling Clubholding a day long catch and release event in False Bay. Determined anglers battled a strong South Easterly to catch themselves a Bronze Whaler Shark.

Bronze Whalersor Bronzies as they are known locally are a species of requiem shark found worldwide at temperate latitudes. They can grow up to 3 metres in length. Like most species of shark their behaviour and movements are little understood. As a way of improving our knowledge of these beautiful fish theSouth African Shark Conservancy (SASC), with assistance fromSave Our Seas SharkCentre, set about collecting valuable data about the Bronze Whaler population, using the sharks caught during the angling competition. By measuring the size of individuals, recording the sex, taking fin clips which provides genetic information, and tagging each shark caught during the competition, stock assessments can be made and population dynamics analysed.

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December 10, 2010 by dyertrust

Marine Dynamicsand Dyer Island Conservation Trust were pleased to have Judy and Bruce Mann visit on the 11th December. Judy is the Director of Sea World and Bruce, senior scientist at the Oceanographic Research Institute (South African Association for Marine Biological Research)

It was a perfect day for shark cage diving with great visibility and no less than twelve sharks.

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December 09, 2010 by dyertrust

The past year has seen Anton Odendaal ofBirdlife Overbergon a mission for the African penguin. A golf day held in June at which a real live penguin was in attendance kicked off the fundraising. Through this and the raffle of Angela Keys penguin painting, R30 000 was raised for the benefit of conservation of our now endangered African penguin.

The money was divided between:

Wilfred Chivell attended Birdlife Overbergs year end function where Anton handed over a cheque for R10 000. This donation will contribute towards efforts involved in research and rescue of our penguins.

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December 08, 2010 by dyertrust

An emergency operation to rescue 156 African Penguin chicks from Dyer Island, South Africa, has been successfully co-coordinated byCapeNaturewith the support of theDyer Island Conservation Trustand theSouth African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds(SANCCOB).

The chicks faced starvation as they had been born late in the breeding season. Now their parents have begun to moult and are therefore to go to sea to fish preventing them from feeding their young which are often abandoned to die.

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December 07, 2010 by dyertrust

Another fishing line bin has been placed in the Pearly Beach area at Jan-se- Klip. Elrina Versfeld of the Pearly Beach Conservancy (PBC) approachedus after they saw the successful implementation of the bins around Gansbaai.

Benjamin Kondokter of the Overstrand Municipality Gansbaai Administration together with Brenda Walters of DICT met Gerald Henrici, treasurer of PBC, and together they placed the bin in a strategic spot. Benjamin took GPS position readings. The municipality is responsible for the emptying of the bins and Benjamin is weighing the contents on a monthly basis, to measure the impact.

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Inshore shark research ? Shark Blog 7

November 16, 2010 by dyertrust

By DICTs Marine Biologist,Alison Towner

Inshore shark research

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November 12, 2010 by dyertrust

We areproud to be assisting theFootball Foundationwith their WHALE (We Have A Lovely Environment) education programme!The main focus is to present programmes sharing knowledge and skills with the youth equipping them to take action for the environment, health and social development. Of the six week programme, the Trust is responsible for two sessions. The first, a beach cleanup, held on the 12th November 2010, saw the twenty chosen pupils of Blompark Primary, meet at the Great White House for a quick talk on marine pollution followed by a practical session on the beach collecting waste and analysing where it comes from, while filling in data sheets. That which could be recycled was done so upon return. The children were also told more on the research being done in the area on the various species.

Beach clean up with Football Foundation and DICTTwo weeks later, the children returned for a lesson on the Marine Big 5 -whales,sharks,seals,penguinsanddolphins- byMichelle Wcisel, marine biologist with Dyer Island Cruises. They were then taken on a boat trip around Dyer Island and Geyser Rock byDyer Island Cruisesstaff, where they were able to see the seals and birdlife of the area.

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November 11, 2010 by dyertrust

An internationally recognised housing project which protects penguin parents and chicks from predators and the storms at the tip of Africa.

Breeding population at a historic low.Click here to learn more.....

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November 10, 2010 by dyertrust

Our eco-tourism partner,Marine Dynamics Toursis setting the trend with their newly designed, multi million rand, purpose built, aluminium shark cage diving boat, Slashfin.

She was designed by a well known naval architect combined with input of experience and expertise of Marine Dynamics and others in the industry and she was built by expert aluminium boat builders, Veecraft from Cape Town.
The combination of speed, stability and safety with more space than any other shark cage diving boat, makes her an automatic choice for any shark diving enthusiast.

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October 19, 2010 by dyertrust


Beijing, China, was the setting of this years World Youth Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) attended byBrenda Walterson behalf ofMarine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust. This event is attended by 565 people from 63 countries and the South African delegation sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry really made a hit with their South African village at the trade fair. The South African Youth Travel Confederation (SAYTC) of which Marine Dynamics are members arrange the logistics and did an amazing job of colourful South African posters that really served to sell the country.

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October 18, 2010 by dyertrust

It is very exciting to see that theTwo Oceans Aquariumin Cape Town has release 19 Loggerhead turtles that have been in their care. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust rescued two earlier this year (click heretoread originalnews story)whichwere sent to the aquarium.

Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), are an endangered species, and have a lifespan of about 50 years. They are rarely seen in the cold waters beyond Cape Aghulas - the most southerly point of Africa - and are particularly susceptible to being driven along by storms and strong sea currents. Our marine biologist,Michelle Wcisel,says that less than 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to adulthood.

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October 17, 2010 by dyertrust

Article from Hermanus Times dated 14 Oct 2010

Photo: Meredith Thornton and Ingrid Peters from Mammal Research Institute with CivAir pilot,Christian du Plass


October 16, 2010 by dyertrust

BirdLife has published a map showing the location of over 10,000 of the worlds most important sites for birds and biodiversity, and their protection status.Click here to view more


October 15, 2010 by dyertrust

Show that you care about Antarctic krill and the penguins, whales, seals, and fish that depend on it by adding your picture to an inter- national photo mosaic of a penguin. This mosaic will be delivered to delegates at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Tasmania next month.

Click here to go to their website.


October 14, 2010 by dyertrust

Ad agency, Ogilvy Cape Town, approached the Dyer Island Conservation Trust to be a part of the latestVolkswagenadvertising campaign. This donated advertising space is invaluable to the Trust and we are grateful to VW and to Lauren Baker at Ogilvy for choosing the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

More on their BlueMotion campaign:

What is BlueMotion?

The benefits of BlueMotion lie in the sum of its parts. The wide range of changes, improvements and technologies work in harmony to make a significant difference to fuel efficiency and emissions (up to a 10% reduction in emissions and fuel, depending on your driving style). Over time, every bit counts. That's the crux of BlueMotion's Think Blue philosophy - not only a commitment to be kinder to the planet, but also the perfect embodiment of Volkswagen's goal to be the most innovative volume car brand in the world.

BlueMotion is about taking an existing thing and making small changes that help the planet, therefore donating advertising space to create awareness of environmental charities.

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October 13, 2010 by dyertrust

Sheraine fromOverstrand Conservation Foundationwho run the eco-school programme, brought 30 pupils from Okkie Smuts School (Stanford) to theDyer Island Cruiseswhale room where they learnt all about marine pollution and its devastating impacts on our marine life before heading down to Kleinbaai harbour for the clean up.

On their return the waste collected was weighed and counted to be collated and sent to the International Ocean Conservancy statistics. Then what could be recycled was processed into the recycling bins that the Trust manages.

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October 12, 2010 by dyertrust

As the animal rescue centre in our area, every day can hold new surprises. Saturday, 9th October, local residents, Alida Olivier and Eddie Enrico were out on the rocks at Haaiklip (Franskraal) when they came across a stranded dolphin. The local paper, the Courant, was contacted, who in turn contacted the Trust.

The dolphin, a juvenileRissos dolphin, about 2metres in length, had many surface injuries most likely due from the actual stranding. It has never been confirmed why whales and dolphins strand but this particular dolphin had a high parasite infection with parasites leaving the body. Samples were taken which will be analysed. The dolphin was kept cool and wet as the rescue operation got underway. The dolphin was moved by vehicle to Kleinbaai harbour whereLwazi, the Trusts research vessel was ready to go into action to release the dolphin into the water. Local vet, Liesel Trollope, administered antibiotics and anti-parasite medication.

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October 11, 2010 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust received a call from Lucinda Verwey in Vermont (Hermanus) regarding an injured seal at Vermont.

It turned out to be a juvenileSouthern Elephant seal(Mirounga leonina), a rare visitor to South Africas shores. Apart from a small injury it was in good condition.

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October 10, 2010 by dyertrust

Every year, the Voortrekkers Grade 7s enjoy an educational time at the African penguin colony at Stony Point (Bettys Bay). Led by educator Danna Smith and her team, the children get to learn all they can about this endangered species.

They also support the Dyer Island Conservation TrustFaces of Need penguin nest project. Brenda from the Trust went along to present their certificate and share more knowledge on the current status of the penguin and its decline of around 100 birds per week over the last 30 years. The children enjoyed a quiz and had just as many questions.

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October 09, 2010 by dyertrust

The Hermanus Whale Festival proved a great place to promote the work of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. The festival organizers sponsored our Marine Big 5 exhibition and the Old Harbour Museum agreed we could use the space outside the whale museum. The Festival was 5 days in total this year and more spread out to involve the community. The atmosphere was festive and by all accounts the businesses in the areas did well. Leon Theron, festival organizer, has a vision of making the Whale Festival more than just a party and that is where we came in. This year we focused on our Marine 5 thewhales,sharks,seals,dolphinsand ourendangered African penguin with information on all the species on display along with all our projects. The talks were arranged around the theme and were all live streamed soon to be shown on ourYouTube Channel.

TheSustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI)joined us in spreading the message about the current status of our fish stock and how we as consumers can affect the long term viability. Already a positive turn in Kingklip stocks has been noted.

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September 30, 2010 by dyertrust

UPDATE - 30 September - The Marine tent at the Whale Festival was a huge hit and the live streaming was viewed via our different websites from people all over the world - thank you. We hope to post each talk on our DICT YouTube channel shortly.

Marine Dynamicsand Dyer Island Conservation Trustwill be bringing you the event of the year straight to your PC!

We will be broadcastingLIVE from the Hermanus Whale Festival 2010. We will be hosting an array of environmental speakers & biologists from around the world to discuss various ecological and marine related issues. For complete schedule see the Whale Festival Speakers Schedule.

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September 29, 2010 by dyertrust

Dyer Island Conservation Trust recently joined forces with Overstrand Municipality Gansbaai Administration in placing unique fishing line disposal bins.

Biologist Katja Vinding Petersen and I headed out on International Coastal Clean Up Day to visit the local angling shops and boat clubs to spread the word. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and the community very supportive of the project. We drove past the bins at Franskraal and Gansbaai harbour and were very pleased to see they are being used. Not only can fishermen use them but those members of the public who are passionate about cleaning up their beach areas.

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September 28, 2010 by dyertrust

A call was received telling us about a washed up whale at a nearby stretch of beach called Die Plaat.The crew headed off to gather samples which we send to Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria) and Oceans and Coasts (Department of Environmental Affairs).

It was a juvenile humpback male whale, 10.2m long. Although it was in a good condition with a thick layer of blubber, it was starting to decompose so we could not do a full necropsy. Cause of death uncertain at this point. There were some post mortem shark bites and no boat marks that were evident.

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September 27, 2010 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) in association with Overstrand Municipality, Gansbaai Administration, is very excited to be establishing the Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling Program (FLRRP) along the Gansbaai shoreline, with specially designed disposal bins.

This innovative project aims to reduce the severe environmental damage caused by discarded fishing line on our coastline. Monofilament fishing line is non-biodegradable and can last for up to 600 years in the marine environment where it entangles wildlife, is mistakenly ingested by birds and animals, resulting in injury or death, and is also hazardous to boaters and swimmers.

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September 26, 2010 by dyertrust

This August the Dyer Island Conservation Trust has rescued eight oiled penguins. It is not always possible to identify the source of the oil it could be from old wrecks still seeping oil or more likely an illegal dumping. Another three penguins have been taken in with shark bite injuries.

The Trust serves as the animal rescue centre in the area and works in close partnership with SANCCOB the centre for coastal bird rehabilitation in Cape Town; Two Oceans Aquarium; and Penguins Eastern Cape.

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September 25, 2010 by dyertrust

Monday morning the 12th of July, turned out to be like all other days here at DICT full of great surprises and excitement. We received a phone call from Penelope Aplon, Environmental Manager of the Overstrand Municipality, about a dead washed up whale at Pringle Bay beach.Wilfred Chivelland I grabbed our rubber boots, stranding kit and oil-skins and within 10 minutes we were on the road heading to Pringle Bay.

It is always exciting when whales are found stranded. Of course we would rather see them alive in the ocean, but when they do die and wash ashore there is so much information for us as scientists to obtain. Skin samples can be used for DNA-analysis, which can tell us the sex of the individual as well as the relationship to other animals in our databases. The baleen as well as blubber can be analyzed for isotopes and fatty acid composition, which enables us to trace back the composition of the animals diet, since species specific isotopes are found in different fish species as well as krill. If it is a toothed whale, we can use the teeth to estimate the age of the animal, by counting the layers of dentine in a cross section.

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Live Streaming

September 22, 2010 by dyertrust

Watch Dyer Island Conservation Trusts LIVE from the

Hermanus Whale Festival

DICT live streaming on Marine Big 5, posted withvodpod

Live streaming from the Hermanus Whale Festival

September 22, 2010 by dyertrust

HOT OFF THE PRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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First Great White Shark tagged

September 19, 2010 by dyertrust

by DICTs Marine Biologist Alison Towner

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Southern Right Whales

September 05, 2010 by dyertrust

Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis)

Southern right whales are large baleen whales. The average size of an adult is approximately 15 metres, but they do grow larger. These whales are filter feeders and they sieve copepods (small planktonic organisms) from the water using huge baleen plates, which hang from the roof of their mouth. This species has a three year breeding cycle, with each female producing one calf every three years. They migrate to our sheltered bays in winter to have their calves, and most are born around August. At this time, some individuals will be mating. When they are not here in South Africa, they are in the Antarctic in their rich summer feeding ground


September 05, 2010 by dyertrust


Which species of dolphins do we find around Dyer Island ?

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September 05, 2010 by dyertrust

CAPE FUR SEALORDER:PinnipediaFAMILY:OtariidaeGENUS:ArctocephalusSPECIES:pusillusSUBSPECIES:pusillus

The Cape Fur Seal breeds at > 40 colonies in southern Africa between Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) and baia dos Tigres (southern Angola), at mainland sites or on islands nearby the coast. There have been several new colonies established in recent decades. In South Africa, seals are protected under the Seabirds and Seals Protection Act, and they are faced with threats such as being drowned in active fishing nets or being deliberately killed by fishermen. They often become entangled in marine litter such as discarded nets, fishing line, or plastic.

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Dyer Island Blog #8 ? 06 October 2009

September 05, 2010 by dyertrust

Dyer Island Blog #8 06 October 2009

Major news the past few weeks in South Africas marine environment was the grounding of the bulk carrier Seli 1 shortly before midnight on Monday 7th September at Blouberg in Cape Town. This 29-year- old Turkish ship was headed for Gibraltar and was carrying 660 tons of fuel and 30 000 tons of coal.

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Waiting for our tagging permit

August 16, 2010 by dyertrust

by DICTs Marine Biologist Alison Towner

As we wait for our tagging permit, we are certainly enjoying some awesome sharks this month, with an average of 6-10 sharks per trip seen of Shark Fever.

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July 23, 2010 by dyertrust

Evan Austin fromAfrican Wing Chartershas the enviable job of flying every day and witnessing some incredible sights off our coastline. This week he had the first Southern Right whale calf sighting.

We first spotted him/her on Wednesday 14 July and managed to get this picture. We have spotted it on all flights since the first sighting and the pair seem to be hanging around just south of the Klein River Lagoon mouth. The latest count seems to be just over 30 whales on all flights over Walker Bay spread mainly along the beach between the lagoon mouth and De Kelders.

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July 23, 2010 by dyertrust

On Friday 23rd July, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust together with the 6th Grade class from Blompark Primary hoped to make a difference and headed off to Danger Point for a beach clean up.

Teams of four were formed and together with the assistance of the international volunteers from Marine Dynamics and teacher, Mr Dreyer, each group collected waste and filled in the data cards which are in turn submitted to the Ocean Conservancy. All data cards and plastic bags are provided for by the Plastics Federation of South Africa.

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July 22, 2010 by dyertrust

Update 22 July 2010- "It has been a week now since the leopard seal was found at Die Dam. We have not seen it since and we have not had any phone calls reporting a sighting, but rumuor is that the local fishermen have seen it close to their boats. So hopefully it is feeding and gaining weight enabling it to make it back to Antartica." Katja Vinding Petersen

A call from Rob Lobb, an Honorary Fishing Inspector, on Thursday the 15th of June found marine biologist Katja Vinding Petersen (MSc) of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Albert Scholtz from Dyer Island Cruises, face to face with a leopard seal. Leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) are found in the Antarctic and there have been so few sightings on the South African coastline that there was reason to be excited. The site was Die Dam, approx. 40kms from Gansbaai in the Western Cape.

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July 22, 2010 by dyertrust

Eskom has identified three sites along the South African coastline as potential plots for a Nuclear Power Station (NPS). Although not the first preferred site, Bantamsklip, just over 20kms from Gansbaai and 10kms from Dyer Island, is one of them.

The proposed site for Bantamsklip is situated within a habitat that is unique not only to this continent but to the whole world's ecosystems. The cold Benguela system on the Atlantic side meets the warm Agulhas Indian Ocean. There is no other area in the world where two such differing bodies of water mix as close to a coastline as here along Cape Agulhas. This marine environment is hosting unique species such as the Great White shark; the endangered African Penguin, abalone, various dolphin species (including the rare Humpback dolphin) an incredible array of seabirds and the Cape Fur seal. The Southern Right whale is also depending on this coastline every year from July to December when they come to mate and calve.

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July 21, 2010 by dyertrust

Ichaboe (pronounced Itcha-boo) Island lies off the coast of Namibia, 50kms north from Luderitz, the closest inhabited town.

Lawrence Green is his book At Daybreak over the Isles published in 1950, said of Ichaboe I had never dreamt of bird life in such profusion until I saw Ichaboe. This is one of the unknown wonders of the world.

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July 20, 2010 by dyertrust

Dyan deNapoli, fondly known asThe Penguin Lady assisted in the largest oil spill in South Africa in 2000, that of the Treasure.

This month sees the 10th anniversary of this oil spill quite profound considering the current BP oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 38,000 penguins were affected, either directly or moved out of harms way. After 12,500 volunteers labored for 556,000 grueling hours, 95% of the penguins were returned to the wild. At the time of the spill, Wilfred Chivell, founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, arranged a donation of 30 tons of fresh fish.

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July 19, 2010 by dyertrust

Adin Stamelman (25 November 1976 - 7 June 2010)

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Adin Stamelman.

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June 08, 2010 by dyertrust


In honour of World Oceans Day, we held interactive presentations at Laerskool Gansbaai.

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June 07, 2010 by dyertrust

Whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs were on the agenda at the1st African Marine Mammal Colloquium (AMMC)held in Gansbaai (18-21 May, 2010). Jointly hosted by the Mammal Research Institute (MRI) of the University of Pretoria and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) at the Great White House in Kleinbaai.

Participants hailed from South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Kenya, and Zanzibar. Of the fifty delegates were researchers, students, government officials, and tourism operators. Well known names included Prof. Peter Best andProf.Elissa Cameron (MRI), Mr Mike Meyer (Oceans & Coasts previously Marine & Coastal Management), Dr Ken Findlay (University of Cape Town) and Dr.Vic Cockcroft (Director of the Centre for Dolphin Studies-Plettenberg Bay).

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June 06, 2010 by dyertrust

Marine mammal research in southern Africa is experiencing an exciting renaissance. There has been a striking increase in the number of research groups, students and projects starting up in the region in the last few years. Collaboration is a key factor in most modern research, allowing small teams with small budgets to generate large findings. In order to facilitate the establishment of collaborations, sharing of ideas and enthusiasm, and avoid the duplication of effort, the Mammal Research Institute (MRI) of the University of Pretoria decided to establish the African Marine Mammal Colloquium (AMMC).

The AMMC is the first meeting of its kind and will be held at the Great White House in Kleinbaai, Western Cape, 18-21 May. Co-hosted by the MRI and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, the AMMC will provide an opportunity for collaboration, sharing ideas and enthusiasm between University and Government scientists, students, conservationists and tourism operators working in southern Africa.

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June 05, 2010 by dyertrust

On April 29, 2010, DICT founderWilfred Chivellwas informed of a stranded dolphin. The dolphin was anIndo-Pacific Humpback dolphin(Sousa chinensis), which is a species commonly found in the waters of Gansbaai, but is in fact a rare animal in the rest of world's oceans. Humpback dolphins are named so after their very large fleshy humps below their dorsal fins.

They are a medium size dolphin with total lengths at 2.0-2.4 meters. They are a shallow water species that are found in depths less than 15 meters commonly just behind the breakers.

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June 04, 2010 by dyertrust

World renowned shark parasitologist, Professor Susan Dippenaar, from theUniversity of Limpopowas invited to visit Dyer Island Conservation Trust /Marine Dynamicsto advise our researcherHennie Ottoon his study of parasites on the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Prof. Dippenaar specialises in siphonostomatoids, a tongue-twisting name for a small part of a larger group of animals commonly known as copepods.

Copepods are the most common and abundant animal group found in the marine and freshwater environments. They form such a large part of the zooplankton that it is reckoned that copepods have the largest biomass of any animal group on earth. Many of the 12,000 or so species are planktonic (drift in sea water) and are an important part of marine food chains. They are a major source of food for a variety of animals like seabirds, whales and most fish species including the largest of all known living fishes, the whale shark. Apart from their nutritional value, copepods are also instrumental in the natural carbon cycle. They feed on photosynthetic algae at night, allowing faeces, respiration, moulted exoskeletons and dead bodies to sink to the ocean floor. Deep sea carbon storage forms an integral part of natures way to avert global warming.

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June 03, 2010 by dyertrust

First study of shark wound healing

Visit our video footage

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Research team gain new scientific device

May 19, 2010 by dyertrust

The last few weeks have seen the beginning of an exciting new phase of research in Klein Bay which that will help us to understand the behaviour of the great white sharks here for the first time. Things are coming together nicely with new equipment, discounts, donations and team spirit! Research Team Gain New Scientific Device A CTD! Measuring white shark movements in relation to environmental parameters is certainly easier said than done! However, thanks to one of our scientific supervisors, Dr Malcolm Smale of Bayworld in Port Elizabeth, the first phase of the inshore shark project has begun. Malcolm kindly permitted the research team to use his CTD which as the abbreviation implies measures water conductivity, temperature and depth.

After an in depth training session from Malcolms research assistant, Michelle du Toit, the team went into the field to sample water within the Bay and around Dyer Island. We sampled four sites inshore, one in Shark Alley itself and one just over the Geldsteen side of the Island (a well known area for the sharks in winter). The graph (above left) may look like three pretty ordinary lines to most folk but in fact these are extremely accurate plots of the turbidity (red line), salinity (blue line) and temperature (green line) at sample site 6 of our transect test grid just outside the mouth of Shark Alley.

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April 29, 2010 by dyertrust

A blue, foreign-registered helicopter bearing the identification 5YBXE attempted to land on Mercury Island last Thursday (22 April 2010) along the southern coast of Namibia, and in the process destroyed hundreds of nests of our most endangered seabirds.

Following this manoeuvre, the helicopter landed on the beach across the bay in the Namib-Naukluft National Park near the Otavi wreck and disturbed the seal colony there.

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April 28, 2010 by dyertrust

Marine biologistshave rescued a baby loggerhead turtle which was driven thousands of kilometers from its home in the warm waters of Mozambique around the tip of Africa and into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Weighing only a couple of grams and measuring less than 6 centimeters, it was dehydrated and weak when found in Kleinbaai, about 100 kilometers from Cape Town, after recent storms.

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April 27, 2010 by dyertrust

Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day.Click hereto go to Earth Day's official website


April 26, 2010 by dyertrust

TheDyer Island Conservation Trusthas been approved as a public benefit organisation in terms of Section 30 of the Income Tax Act and has been approved for purposes of section 18A(1)(a) of the Act. All donations to the organisation will be tax deductible and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes.

To find our more, pleaseemail Brenda Walters


April 25, 2010 by dyertrust

See post by Michelle Wcizel, a researcher currently based in Walvis Bay but who will be joining our team later this month. Her studies focus on marine biology, animal behaviour and neurobiology This particular blog focuses on four spotted gully sharks found dead on the beach, one of which was pregnant with a litter of 8.Click here to read.


April 24, 2010 by dyertrust

DICT helps save an entangled whale....we now have the video loaded onto U-tube for you to view (Footage supplied by Fasttrax Marine).Click here to view.

Wilfred Chivell of the local disentanglement unit was called on Saturday 27 Juneby Jason Stafford of Ivanhoe Safaris in Gansbaai,to inform him of anentangled whale in Walker Bay close to the Kelders caves.

read more

Approval granted

February 18, 2010 by dyertrust

by DICTs Marine Biologist Alison Towner

Progress with UCT! After an official letter of acceptance from the department of Zoology at UCT I was finally able to register. After waiting for so long for this opportunity I think its safe to say I was the happiest second time student in Africa- if not the world! To add to the great news the department of Avian demography reimbursed me a fee based on the work the DICT has supported over the years- which has helped enormously. All is looking good!

read more


February 08, 2010 by dyertrust


Gansbaai finally has a high school. The new Gansbaai Secondary School opened in January. It was opened as a no fee school to benefit the local community, and although a low fee has been implemented to cover some running costs, this still leaves the school with many requirements. Besides supporting our environment, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust feels very strongly about giving back to the community and the offer by the Trust to donate some trees to the school grounds was met with much appreciation by school principal, Wessel Havenga.

read more


February 07, 2010 by dyertrust

Marine pollution, especially that of plastic is having a devastating effect on the albatross population -click hereto see the articlefrom Namibia Coastal Marine for more information.

Special thanks to Mike & Ann fromNamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibian Coastal / Marine Bird News working group andChris Jordaan


February 06, 2010 by dyertrust

Suppport the work of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust by purchasing your loved one a Valentines day e-card.Click here to view...


February 05, 2010 by dyertrust

Did you know that we offer a volunteer/internship programme on our shark cage diving boat,Shark Fever, and our research boat,Lwazi! Work with our marine biologists, Alison Towner and Oliver Jewell, and our dynamic crew aboardShark Fever. Learn more about the great white shark and assist in aspects of research on this amazing animal.

For more on the programme,click here.


February 04, 2010 by dyertrust

Anne Voorbergen is an MSc student from Wageningen University (the Netherlands) and has been on Dyer Island, with the support of CapeNature, for four months. Doing fieldwork for her thesis on the natural Kelp Gull predation of the Cape Cormorant, she has the incredible privilege of witnessing their behaviour on a daily basis.

An observation tower was erected on the Island at the end of 2009 and it is from this structure that Anne gets to monitor the interactions between gulls and cormorants and now even the seals.

read more


February 03, 2010 by dyertrust

The recently reported 300m oil slick (Cape Argus 16.01.10 & Cape Times 17.01.10) assumed to come from the iron ore carrier, the Treasure, which sunk ten years ago off the West Coast, is great cause for concern. Even though it was subsequently reported that the slick had broken up, the oil still remains a hazard for marine animals. The concern is those birds and marine mammals that can be affected without our awareness and die out at sea. It would be good to see stronger measures implemented by Government to deal with off shore oil pollution and not just that affecting our immediate coastline.

SANCCOB is on high alert for possible oiling of seabirds as the slick could affect Dassen Island, and its seabird population, including that of the African penguin, a species considered Vulnerable.

read more


February 02, 2010 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust wishes to publicly convey its support for the Save Bantamsklip organization whose objective is to prevent the building of a nuclear power station in Bantamsklip. For more information


January 12, 2010 by dyertrust

Our sympathy is extended to the friends and family of Mr Lloyd Skinner, a 37 year old Zimbabwean man, who died tragically in a shark attack on the 12th January 2010 at Fish Hoek beach.

At this time of the year, the increase of swimmers is matched by the movement of the Great White sharks into the shallows. In the winter months they prey on the Cape fur seal and so are based closer to the seal colonies. Reasons for this change of behaviour in summer are still being researched.

read more


January 11, 2010 by dyertrust

The whale season has come to a close and most southern right whales have left our shores. Dyer Island Cruises sometimes has to go skyward to find any remaining whales to ensure they still give their clients the best experience. So on the last day of 2009, our whale spotter, Kira Matiwane, took to the sky in a gyrocopter.

Luckily we found two mother and calf pairs still resting off Pearly Beach thus ensuring a wonderful trip later that day. It is very late in the year for any whales still to be found in the area and we hope they stay a lot longer.

read more


January 10, 2010 by dyertrust

The environment in which we live and on which we depend is undergoing rapid modification because of changes in global climate and because of land-transforming human activities. Our ability to weather these changes depends on our capacity to detect the first signs of them.

From cranes to korhaans to queleas, this new booklet describes how monitoring and research on birds can provide us with the early warning signs that we need. And there are many such signs in South Africa: numbers of African Penguins plummet; Red-billed Queleas, the "feathered locust", invade new areas; and Southern Black Korhaans disappear from places where they were plentiful 20 years ago.

read more


January 09, 2010 by dyertrust

Femina magazine kindly placed an advertisement in their December issue on behalf of the Trusts penguin project, encouraging their readers to purchase a unique gift this year a penguin home. See the Feminas editorial page for our ad. To purchase a here.


December 30, 2009 by dyertrust

On the 26th November 2008, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), made a donation of R10 000 to

Penguins-Eastern Cape (PEC), a marine bird rehabilitation centre situated in Cape St. Francis. The centre is dedicated to mitigating the human impact on marine birds and mammals through emergency response and rescue, rehabilitation, research and education. Penguins-Eastern Cape provides treatment and temporary care for oiled, sick, dehydrated, and injured African penguins, in addition to sick and injured marine birds and those in need of rest and recovery.

read more


December 29, 2009 by dyertrust

Butterfield and Robinson, an organization taking bicycle enthusiasts around the globe since 1966, invited Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust to do a series of specialized presentations for groups of visiting international cyclists, staying at the Birkenhead House in Hermanus, to give them a deeper insight into the dynamic local marine life. Wilfred has given two visual presentations on the Marine Big 5 (whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and penguins) as well as elaborating on the research and conservation efforts currently being undertaken by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. In return, the seasoned travelers offered to make a contribution to the Trust, generously offering to sponsor two penguin houses per talk, and attendees have already sponsored 11 penguin houses to date! The penguins will surely raise their feathers to you!


December 27, 2009 by dyertrust

On 23rd October 2008, a Southern Right Whale calf, estimated to be at least four months old, was found stranded on Pearly Beach, with no apparent injuries. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) assists Dr Peter Best, Meredith Thornton and colleagues, of the Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria), housed at the South African Museum in Cape Town, with data collection when such events occur locally. With no reason for death evident, Wilfred Chivell, founder of DICT, collected skin samples from the whale, as well as numerous amphipods from the skin surface. The skin is used for a study on the fungi that grow on whale skin, which is a co-operative project with the Mammal Research Institute and Stellenbosch University. The eyes were also collected for a comparative study with Bowhead Whales. This project aims to use the lens of the eye to determine the age of the animal. At the Museum, research is undertaken on the ecology, population dynamics and behaviour of cetaceans in the waters of southern Africa, with the principal objective of providing information that will promote their conservation. They also train students, do environmental education and are engaging with the fishing industry in order to reduce whale entanglement. Apart from fieldwork on live animals they also collect stranded specimens to add to the Museum's marine mammal collection, including both skeletal and histological specimens.


December 22, 2009 by dyertrust

TheIsa Carstens Health and Skin Care Academyin Stellenbosch, one of South Africa's leaders in the highly specialised field of health and skin care therapy, has adopted the Dyer Island Conservation Trust's African Penguin Housing Project as their Social Responsibility project. Under the guidance of Isabelle-Carstens Roos, the Academy was the first school of its kind in the Western Cape, registered by the Department of Education as a private provider of higher education.

The first years, second years and staff of Isa Carstens put in a great amount of effort to raise funds for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. On Friday the 26th of September 2008, all students were allowed to dress-up in black and white and had to pay R10 to participate in this effort. A couple of years ago the people of Stellenbosch started to call the Ladies of Isa Carstens 'the penguins' due to the fact that their uniforms looked literally like penguin suits and that is why they adopted Dyer Island Conservation Trust and the Faces of Need project.

read more


December 20, 2009 by dyertrust

Whenever an animal in need, whether bird or mammal, is found in the greater Dyer Island area at sea or on land, Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust is called in. Animals are collected and are cared for, where after expert help is sought if needed.

Over time, we have established ourselves as the Call Centre for all animals in need. In this way we know what happens to the animals in our area, and can investigate the causes of animal injuries to minimise them in the future.

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Observations and wound healings

December 10, 2009 by dyertrust

by DICTs Marine Biologist Alison Towner

Early November saw our supervisors,Prof. Les Underhilland Dr Malcolm Smale here for a weekend to go over the projects finer aspects and planning. Malcolms expertise in the project is extremely beneficial and he was full of ideas as to how, why, when, and what else we should look at with the white sharks in the tracking area. Les- renowned for being a statistical genius gave some great insight on how best to analyse and collect data- along with incorporating oceanographic parameters into the picture. Together they really are an encouraging team and we very much look forward to their input throughout the project! We await word from the University on the go ahead.

read more


December 09, 2009 by dyertrust

On Wednesday the 9th December, we took our new research boat Lwazi out and were very excited to see Bottlenose dolphins back in the Bay. The first pod we saw consisted of around 16 adults with at least 6 calves. We bumped into another pod further on that were feeding. We also passed Geyser Rock, home to a 60 000 strong seal colony. The seals have recently had their pups although not all of them make it as we were witness to.


November 21, 2009 by dyertrust

On the 21stNovember,DICTwere able to accompanyCapeNaturetogether withMCMto rescue 93 African penguin chicks off Dyer Island. The parents go into moult and do not swim during this time therefore the chicks are no longer fed. This can be due to inexperience on the part of the breeding pair. With the declining numbers, not one penguin can risk being lost. The chicks are taken toSANCCOBwhere they are fed and strengthened then will be re-released on to Dyer Island to become part of the next breeding generation.

Look out for Laurens nextblogwhere she will have more information and photographs.


November 20, 2009 by dyertrust

The Trust is overwhelmed by the generosity of the members of Virtuoso African Destinations who have given us a second donation of R10 000 to support ourshark research project. We met Brenda James, Sales and Marketing Manager, of theTwelve Apostles Hotel and Spaat theTwo Oceans Aquariumwhere Rene Leeuwner had very kindly arranged for us to do the hand over.


November 19, 2009 by dyertrust

This year the British Dive Show was held inBirminghamand Alison Towner, our Marine Biologist fromMarine Dynamicsattended.Read more below.....

The British NEC Dive Show

Birmingham National Exhibition Centre was the venue for the 24-25thOctober 2009 DIVE show. This show presents a great opportunity for dive centres from all corners of the globe to exhibit their diving and to promote courses, trips and diving holidays of all types. From the Red Sea liveaboards to Caribbean reef dives to British and Scandinavian dry suit dives, the diversity of dive experiences available is huge.
African Spaceis a dive organisation run by James Parker and Louis van Aardt. Their stand this year saw the collaboration of Ben Jones, dive manager from the Sodwana Bay Lodge Resort; Louis from Pro Dive in Port Elizabeth; Alison Towner (our marine biologist from Gansbaai's shark cage diving company,Marine Dynamicsand a couple of research divers from Tanzania. The motives of African Space were simple - to inform the British public of the diving opportunities available in Africa with a focus on South Africa. The team consists of people actually working in the dive resorts who can tell the interested diver exactly what to expect. African Space promotes only eco friendly dive operators and ensures that when a person books with them that they are well looked after and transported to each dive destination in an organised and stress free way. The team made lots of connections and contacts and an educational talk was given by Alison on both the Saturday and Sunday on using eco tourism to fund white shark research. This gave us the opportunity to highlight our conservation initiatives with regard to the white shark.For more on our research projects,click here.
The show hosts guest speakers with talks and seminars held in hourly slots throughout the two days. People can choose to walk into a presentation of their interest with opportunities to ask questions at the end- which gives a really educational and interactive angle to the show. This year one of the most popular presentations was given by Mark Addison- a South African shark expert and free diver based in Rocky bay near Umkomaas in the KZN province. Marks talk composed stunning under water footage by Charles Maxwell (a very well reputed South African cameraman) and it featured the sardine run, tiger shark diving, great whites and ragged tooth sharks. Marks professionalism in diving combined with his passion for shark conservation made a real impact on the British diving audience and aroused plenty of interest in South Africa as a dive. At the end of Marks talk on the Saturday a 6 year old boy stood up and asked Mark in front of 400 people- 'So what can I do to help?!' Nice to know we have a budding conservationist in the mix.
Another popular talk was given by Richard Pierce- a UK shark expert who published the book Sharks of the British Seas.He also runs the Shark Conservation society (SCS) andShark Trust.He presented his findings on various shark research expeditions in the Middle East (Qatar and Bahrain) and also his white shark expeditions in the Mediterranean off Croatia. Richard did not manage to find white sharks at either location but did establish a possible new pupping ground for blue sharks in the Med and confirmed a number of new species of sharks in the Middle East. The Shark Trust and Richard work really hard to answer questions on areas that have had little research done previously and his next mission is to search for great white sharks off the north west coast of Scotland next year. Best of luck to him!
Many thanks must go to African Space for sharing their space withMarine Dynamic


November 18, 2009 by dyertrust

The TICE committee arranged an official cheque handover on the 16thNovember at Winchester Mansions.All three nominated organisations, DICT,WARMTHandThe Tourism Education Trustmet the TICE committee at the Winchester Mansions in Sea Point.

Thanks again to the TICE team Joy, Obeidah, Anika, Carol, Helen, Larry, Natalie, Rema, Rene, Shirley, Lindsey and John.


November 17, 2009 by dyertrust

DICT was incredibly grateful to the TICE committee for nominating the Trust as one of three beneficiaries at their annual charity event. The evening was a black tie affair at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the tourism industry was out in force.

The other charities nominated includedWARMTH War against Malnutrition, Tuberculosis and Hunger andThe Tourism Education trust. We all had an opportunity to present and DICT showed an audiovisual on the work we are involved with that affects the Marine Big 5 in the area penguins, whales, sharks, dolphins and seals.

read more


November 16, 2009 by dyertrust

The Isa Carstens Health and Skin Care Academy in Stellenbosch, is a valued supporter of the Dyer Island Conservation Trusts African Penguin Housing Project as their Social Responsibility project. The schools uniform is black and white and this has led to the students being labelled penguins. Every year, the students of the school have a penguin dress up to raise funds and awareness of theFaces of Need penguin housing project.

Much laughter was had on Friday 23rd September, as the judges, principal Hester Burger (dressed as a penguin), Marketing Officer, Cretienne Kotze, along with DICT, went to four different classrooms for a small show from each group. There was the penguin shuffle, some pop songs revamped into penguin songs, and the nest builders along with the grateful penguins. Seems there is some very impressive talent out there.

read more


November 15, 2009 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust works closely with the Mammal Research Institute in a number of ways sample and data collection when a whale or dolphin is beached; collection of whale faeces to better understand the feeding habits of the southern right whale; and any logistical support required in terms of research.

Every year, an aerial survey is done on the southern right whale and we host the team. Meredith Thornton from the Mammal Research Institute at The University of Pretoria has kindly shared some background to this survey.Click here to read more


October 30, 2009 by dyertrust

October has been declared Marine Month and Monday 19th October was a beautiful day for a coastal clean up. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) with the assistance of a very enthusiastic Grade 6 class from Blompark Primary, led by Mr Dreyer, did just that.

DICT was given yellow garbage bags and data cards from the Ocean Conservancy and the Plastics Federation of South Africa, who are pro-active about litter awareness. The class was given an educational talk in the classroom on the impact of marine litter. They were reminded that every piece of litter has a persons face behind it. The clean up was done on a stretch of beach at Danger Point where the amount of plastic collected along with around 120 tangles of fishing line served to raise awareness on the possibility of harm to seabirds and other animals.

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October 29, 2009 by dyertrust

The Trust is very grateful to members of Virtuoso African Destinations who generously donated R10 000 for dedicated use in whale disentanglements. Wilfred Chivell has been involved in numerous whale disentanglements and officially belongs to the South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) apartnership withMarine & Coastal Management. Using specifically designed tools and following safety protocols, we are able to cut away ropes and gear from the animal. Since its inception SAWDN has disentangled more than a dozen whales off the coast of South Africa.

We thank Andr Botha, Marketing & Sales Director fromTrans Africa Safaris, for arranging this much needed donation.

read more

Launch of our research boat

October 19, 2009 by dyertrust

by DICTs Marine Biologist Alison Towner

Hello to all the shark supporters and welcome to the first blog for the DICT white shark research program. We are so excited to finally have contact with all of those who have donated towards our shark project and aim to keep you fully informed on a monthly basis of any progress made.

read more


October 03, 2009 by dyertrust

On Wednesday, 30 September, we took a drive to Bettys Bay to meet with the Grade7 students ofDie Voortrekker. Every year that grade gets together to learn more about the African Penguin, and together they bought a very important piece of real estate: an African Penguin house on Dyer Island.

The class had been educated about the severe decline of the African Penguin population around the Southern African coastline, and how these houses are being used to increase the breeding success of the penguins. Following their generous donation, the class was provided with a certificate of recognition for their purchase (their title deed), and given a quiz on the status and facts of the African Penguin by Brenda Walters, of DICT, who was impressed by their knowledge and passion.That afternoon they were visiting the colony at Stony Point where the management of the reserve (Overstrand Municipality) were keeping aside a lightly oiled penguin to enable further education before its transfer to Sanccob.

read more


October 02, 2009 by dyertrust

This year at the Whale Festival we had an Enviro Marquee to celebrate the Marine Big 5 Whales, sharks, dolphins, penguins and seals. Our icon was Wally the Whale who was a hit with the children.

Dyer Island Cruisesdonated a large scale whale replica to the Festival which lay proudly outside the marquee.

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October 02, 2009 by dyertrust

The Simonstown Penguin Festival SANCCOB Benefit Weekend held on the 25th September kicked off with a masked ball at Boulders Beach Lodge (well organized by Operations Manager Janine Genade and her team) and DICT was very excited to be there. Michelle Garforth (Wild Ltd) was MC and guests included Amelia Venter, world renowned animal communicator; Miss Earth; plus local singer Jakkie Louw who entertained everyone with his special penguin song Drie Pikkewyne. There was much competition for the best masks and ultimate winner went to a couple who had decorated their mask and snorkel with crystal. These masks were donated and auctioned off for SANCCOB. The Trust donated 50 nests toward the event and the first love shack kicked off the auction. These nests will be placed by SANParks at the Boulders penguin colony.

A great evening was definitely enjoyed by all and guests left with a copy of Enviropedia, an invaluable resource of environmental information.

read more


October 01, 2009 by dyertrust

On Lauren Wallers (PhD researcher) nest rounds last week she came across a nest where previously the adults were incubating two eggs. Being interested to see what happens to this nest as it is very late in the season for penguins to be incubating and they should be coming to the end of breeding and preparing for their moult fast.

Lauren found what she thought was two dead day old chicks in the nest that had possibly been abandoned by parents who had left for their pre-moult fattening. As she began collecting all the dead specimens the chicks peeped at her. The chicks were slowly dying of hunger and cold. They rushed the chicks inside the housing area at Dyer, blowing on them to keep them warm. The weaker one stopped breathing and the manager, Deon Geldenhuys fromCapeNatureblew in its mouth. After throwing up some green liquid (the chicknot the manager), it started breathing again. They managed to keep the chicks warm, and with a call to Venessa Strauss from SANCCOB, set up a feeding regime. SANCCOB had donated a lamp that they could use to warm chicks up, and so Deon performed some MacGyver trick and set up an incubator for the chicks.

read more


September 29, 2009 by dyertrust

Adin Stamelman, a Dyer Island researcher and UCT PhD candidate, recently presented findings from his work on the South African Guano Islands at the second History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP) conference in Vancouver, Canada.
The HMAP project is part of the broader Census of Marine Life program which aims to scientifically answer three simple but important questions, namely:

What lived in the ocean?
What lives in the ocean?
What will live in the ocean?

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September 23, 2009 by dyertrust

DICTwill be at the Whale Festival 24-27 September in Hermanus, at the Enviro Expo marquee on the lawn in front of the Village Square Waterfront Piazza.

Fascinating talks on the Marine Big 5 will be held on the Saturday and Sunday

read more


September 22, 2009 by dyertrust

DICT has been have been nominated as one the organizations benefiting from the Travel Industry Charity Events. Should anyone wish to attend, they can contact Brenda

Click hereto open the invite


September 21, 2009 by dyertrust

A Rissos dolphin stranded at Danger Point on the 30th of July. This was the first dolphin of this species that we know to have stranded here. Meredith Thornton, Manager of Cetacean Research (Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, based at Iziko Museums of Cape Town) provided us with the following information:

"The dolphin was a Rissos dolphin, Grampus griseus. It was a mature female and was not pregnant or lactating. It was very thin and only had two teeth in the lower jaw. Besides for a superficial wound forward of the dorsal fin, there was nothing obviously wrong with it, and it probably died of old age.
The largest stranded male from the southern African subregion measured 3.41m, the largest female was 3.18m, while this one measured 3.17m.
The skull is currently being processed at the IZIKO South African Museum, and will be added to their marine mammal collection. The stomach and reproductive samples were collected, to be examined at the later date. A skin sample was taken and is being retained for DNA and fungal analysis.
This species is found worldwide, in tropical and temperate regions. They are found close to the edge of the continental shelf, in water between 350-1500m, and in pelagic (open waters). They feed primarily on cephalopods.
Rissos are unusual looking animals. They are easy to identify in comparison to other dolphins and are always lovely to see as they have beautiful colouration patterns and scarring all over their body. They have a blunt head and, a disproportionately large, erect dorsal fin.

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September 20, 2009 by dyertrust

This Giant Petrel was bitten by a Great White Shark on the 5th of July. Liesel Trollope, a local vet, treated the bird before we sent it of to Sanccob.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust often tests birds and plan to have arehab centre for wild birds and animals.


September 19, 2009 by dyertrust

On30thMay 2009, a mass false killer whale stranding occurred at Kommetjie inCape Town.Meredith Thornton, Manager of Cetacean Research (Mammal Research Institute,UniversityofPretoria, based at Iziko Museums ofCape Town) provided us with the following information on the incident.

False killer whale strandings occur very rarely inSouth Africa.Such a situation has to be judged on its own merits, including numbers and species of animals involved, their condition, the nature of the topography, prevailing sea and weather conditions, and vehicular access to the beach.Although "rescue" might be everybody's ideal (sometimes these animals re-strand shortly afterwards and in a different area), on many occasions the sad truth is that there are only two possible options, euthanasia or leaving them to die on their own.

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September 18, 2009 by dyertrust

Southern right whales are starting tomake their annual appearance back along our coastline, and have been regularly sighted off of Kleinbaai and Gansbaai. A few sightings were reported in May, but the whales are being spotted more and more frequently now.

The whales migrate from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic region to the South African coastline for their annual breeding/calving season. Whale activity should soon start picking up in the next month or so with the appearance of mating groups and soon some newborn calves! Successful breeding is very important for these whales, still classified as endangered, despite a slow and steady recovery of the population following historical whaling.

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September 16, 2009 by dyertrust

ABSA Gansbaai handed over a generous donation.
The Nolwandle Crafts Project was established by theDyer Island Cruisesas a community development program in 2006 as an initiative to provide employment to previously disadvantaged people in the local community.

During the first week of June 2009, ABSA Gansbaai handed over a generous donation of 20 rolls of material to the group of entrepreneurs of Nolwandle Crafts, at their premises in Masakhane. As part of the contribution, the Nolwandle members will manufacture bibs for the local soccer team, teaching them to give something back to their own community.

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September 15, 2009 by dyertrust

Afalse killer whale was found deceased onMonday 1 June 2009 stranded at a beach in Romansbaai in theWestern Cape.The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was alerted of the stranding and arrived at the scene to photograph the animal and to take vital measurements and samples to be analysed by researchers at the Mammal Research Institute (UniversityofPretoria/Iziko MuseumsofCape Town).The reason for the stranding is unknown and we hope to learn more from the scientific findings once the samples have been analysed.


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September 14, 2009 by dyertrust

African Penguin numbers now at all time low - Alarming decline in breeding colonies continues.

Gansbaai,Western Cape,South Africa
15th-18thApril 2009

The 2ndInternational African Penguin Conference, organized by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, took place from the15-18thApril 2009inGansbaai,Western Cape,South Africa.The conference brought together 80 delegates, both local and international, including conservation managers, research scientists, conservationists and seabird rehabilitation experts. Participating organizations included: Cape Nature, South African National Parks,OverstrandMunicipality,RobbenIslandMuseum,UniversityofCape Town, Marine and Coastal Management (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism), University of Bristol (UK), SANCCOB, BirdLife SouthAfrica, Penguins Eastern Cape, SAMREC, Two Oceans Aquarium, Bayworld, the US SPP Program, and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.The conference focused on the continued decline of the African penguin population and aimed to consolidate the links and strategies needed to address this dramatic decline.
This report provides a brief summary of some of the highlights of the Conference.Scientific proceedings, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will be published later this year.To register for acopy click here
Numbers continue to decline at alarming rate
Recent data collected from the breeding colonies of the Western Cape of South Africa confirm that the number of African Penguins continues to decline at an alarming rate.
According to Professor Rob Crawford of Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marine and Coastal management Directorate, there were 147,000 breeding pairs of African Penguins in 1956 while by 2006 there were only 36,000 pairs.


September 13, 2009 by dyertrust

DICT was invited to attend the Fynbos Forumworkshop, held in Gansbaai.

This was heldon 25th March 2009, themed Our Marine Environment. Talks presented included Mysteries of the Great Whites, Life between tides and Gansbaai pelagic fish industry. At the previous workshop in October 2008, Wilfred Chivell (founder of DICT) presented a talk concerning the plight of the African penguins on Dyer Island, and the actions the Trust is taking to help prevent any further population declines in this already vulnerable species (Faces of Neednesting project). The FEF committee unanimously decided to sponsor a penguin nest and several of the committee members privately sponsored nests as well. A member of DICT was present at the workshop to present a certificate of sponsorship to the committee. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust would again like to thank all the members that so generously contributed to this worthy cause.

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September 12, 2009 by dyertrust

IKapa Honourary Rangers hand over 200 penguin nests

On 3 March 2009, the iKapa Honourary Rangers handed over 200 artificial penguin nests, specially designed by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), to the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) in an attempt to boost the Boulders Beach African penguin colony, near Cape Town. This great project was made possible with the generous support of DICT, who sponsored 50 nests, as well as the US-based Species Survival Plan, SANCCOB, and the public.

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September 11, 2009 by dyertrust

In our January newsletter we reported on a ringed African Black OystercatcherHaematopus moquini, which was injured and brought to DICT for care.This species is found only on the coasts of South Africa and Namibia, and not only do these birds mate for life, but some pairs are known to have been together for nearly 20 years.Oystercatchers obtain all their food from the inter-tidal zone of rocky and sandy shores and their preferred prey is limpets and mussels.African Black Oystercatchers are thought to have a lifespan of about 35 years or more, and start breeding at three to four years of age.

Unfortunately our bird did not make it, however we were able to gain some valuable information on the birds history by sending the ring number (654462) to SAFRING (South African Bird Ringing Unit).This particular individual was ringed by MCM (Sea Fisheries) on 02/021988, and re-trapped on 26/12/2008, which means the bird was 20 years of age, which is remarkable!The coastal breeding sites of these birds render them vulnerable to human disturbance, with eggs and chicks at risk of being crushed by people or vehicles, as well as being exposed to predation by domestic dogs.
This individual was ringed at Waenhuiskrans, Arniston, in the Western Cape (3440'S2014'E), and recovered at Pearly Beach, in the Western Cape of South Africa (3440'S1920'E).This means that this extraordinary little bird traveled 82km in 7633 days, an amazing feat for a species that is largely resident, migrating only short distances to nursery areas after fledging and then returning to their natal sites to breed.



September 10, 2009 by dyertrust


September 09, 2009 by dyertrust

A rare sight was found by the CapeNature staff just off Dyer Island recently.A Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) was found dead just outside the entrance to the island close to the jetty.The manager of the island, Deon Geldenhuys collected the dolphin with the boat and brought it to shore.

The dolphin was a male, and its total length was 2.44 m.The carcass was sent to Marine and Coastal Management (the South African government department for marine and coastal management and research) for further tests.

This species is found in temperate, tropical and subtropical waters around the word, preferring deeper water and rarely seen in coastal areas.It was the first time a Striped Dolphin had been seen in this area.


September 08, 2009 by dyertrust

Two journalists visited the island in February.One from the US and another from Germany.Their aim was to document the plight of the African Penguin, the threats they are facing and current conservation projects to address them.They had a radio interview with Lauren Waller, currently busy with her Phd on the African Penguins on Dyer Island.We will post a link to the radio transcripts once they are available.

It is encouraging to note the international interest in conservation in South Africa and the interest and support received from the international communities over the plight of the African Penguin.


September 07, 2009 by dyertrust

From the 19th 25th January 2009, our very own marine biologist Alison Towner of Marine Dynamics Tours was lucky enough to join a research expedition to the Breede River Estuary, just two hours drive east from Gansbaai. The project was incorporated under our Faces of Need Sharks program and was partly funded by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine and Coastal Management. The managing operators of the project were the South African Shark Conservancy, who put together the protocol. The aim of the expedition was to find a Bull shark (also known as: Zambezi shark) in the river itself after rumours of locals and fishermen having their catch taken off their lines.

On the off chance of finding a 'Zambi' we were equipped with acoustic and continuous tags and a VR100 receiver with tracking hydrophone. We were hoping upon landing and tagging the shark so we could maybe track some of its fine scale movements around the Breede River. In all, the project was a HUGE success. Not only did we land, tag and release a bull shark but we did so with the worlds LARGEST. She was a 4m (possibly pregnant) female half a meter bigger than the previous record. We tracked her continuously for 43hrs the longest acoustic tracking period of any known Bull shark! We also established the Southern most distribution of the species in the world and the most Western distribution in SA. The list goes on, it was a stunning and fantastic experience to be part of and what a break through for South African research!

By: A. Towner


September 06, 2009 by dyertrust

On 10thFebruary 2009, Steve Kirkman and Martin Haupt, researchers who will be studying the movements and foraging behaviour of Cape Fur Seals, visited Geyser Rock, accompanied by Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.Scat samples were collected for dietary analysis and tests were carried out in order to assess whether the radio tracking instruments to be used for the study would function successfully at this location.

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September 05, 2009 by dyertrust

On Thursday the 12thFebruary the German Minister of Enviromental affairs Sigmar Gabriel and the German Ambassador Dieter Haller came to visit Grootbos Private Nature Reserve ( in Gansbaai for the day. Part of the program and one of the highlights was a trip to Dyer Island to visit the seals, penguins and the Great White Shark and to experience first hand the conservation work done by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. On the way to the island a lone baby seal, separated from its mother, was picked up and returned to the island. The Minister released the seal pup and it immediately swam towards the island and safety. The Minister and Ambassador where very impressed with the conservation work done through the Dyer Island Conservation Trust for the marine and coastal life. They were both presented with a certificate, which made them proud owners of 2 artificial penguin nests on Dyer Island.

Am Donnerstag den 12 Februar besuchte der Deutsche Umweltminister Sigmar Gabriel und der Deutsche Botschafter fuer Sued Afrika Dieter Haller das Private Grootbos Natur Reservat ( in Gansbaai. Teil des Programmes war ein Bootsausflug zu den Robben, Penguinen, Weissen Hai und der insel Dyer Island. Auf dem Weg zur Insel trieb eine baby Robbe, von der Mutter getrennt, hilflos im Meer. Die Robbe wurde auf das Boot genommen und spaeter von Herrn Gabriel an der Insel ausgesetzt. Der Minister und der Botschafter erhielten beide ein Certifikat fuer ein kuenstliches Penguin Nest das durch den Dyer Island Conservation Trust auf Dyer Island plaziert wird um die Penguine zu schuetzen. Der Minister und der Botschafter waren sehr beeindruckt von der Arbeit die Dyer Island Conservation Trust fuer die Meerestiere und die Kueste in Gansbaai und Umgebung leisten.


September 04, 2009 by dyertrust

Two Oceans Productions based in Roggebaai has been busy with the production of a German film set in Kogelbaai for the past few months.The producers hope that with the film titled Song of Whales will create awareness about the effect of irresponsible practices on nature.Life-size whales were manufactured out of fiberglass at great cost in order to play out a stranding scene.Once filming drew to an end, the producers decided that the whales should be used to promote further conservation efforts by making them available to institutions actively involved in whale conservation. Willow Howell from Two Oceans Productions contacted Wilfred Chivell of Dyer Island Cruises to offer the whales at no cost, in view of the fact that he is largely involved in whale conservation, and has also made a huge contribution to marine conservation in South Africa.The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, which was founded by Wilfred three years ago, promotes marine conservation and funds numerous research projects regarding different species on Dyer Island and the surrounds.It was agreed that the recipients would be responsible for the transport costs of the whales and relevant arrangements.Each whale weighs in at about 800 kg, and is 13 m by 5 m, and therefore they had to be lifted up onto the low bed transport vehicle with a crane.At the moment the two large whales are lying in the parking area behind the Great White House, in Gansbaai, from where they will be relocated in the near future to more strategic places in order to tell visitors a story about these wonderful, majestic creatures that visit our coastline for half of the year.


September 03, 2009 by dyertrust

On 20thJanuary 2009, SANParks field rangers collected 50 penguin nests donated by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust to be installed at Boulders Beach, in Cape Town.This urban mainland colony is home to about 900 breeding pairs of African penguins.Our hope is that these new housing additions to the colony will provide much needed shelter and protection to breeding African penguins.SANParks plans to purchase 50 additional nests for the colony, and the placing of the nests and promotion of the nest box project at Boulders Beach is well underway.DICT, in addition to SANCCOB, and IKAPA Honorary Rangers, are all in support of the project. Monique Ruthenberg, who manages the Boulders colony, plans to do a research project on the nesting of the penguins in their new homes, which will be wonderful as it will allow a comparison to be made with results we are getting from a similar study on Dyer Island by penguin researcher Lauren Waller from UCT.By expanding the Faces of Need project to other breeding colonies of African penguins, DICT hopes to actively reverse the dramatic population decline of this now vulnerable species.


September 01, 2009 by dyertrust

On the 15thand 16thof January 2009, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust joined forces with SANParks officials in an effort to expand our Faces of Need project to the shores of Bird Island, in Algoa Bay, 53 km due east of Port Elizabeth. At 19 hectares, Bird Island is home to about 2700 breeding pairs of African penguins, and also southern Africas most populous gannetry. Over two days, 48 artificial penguin nests were installed on Bird Island, and within just a few hours the curious penguins started moving in!Another 102 nests will be delivered to the island within the next week and we hope to see a positive effect on the breeding success of the penguins, with the first few eggs of the season already being laid.The penguin colony at Bird Island is in very close proximity to the major oil-shipping routes, and therefore this breeding colony is at high risk of chronic oil pollution, thus conservation efforts must focus on protecting as many individuals as possible during these uncertain times.


August 28, 2009 by dyertrust

On 11 December 2008, after being hand reared at SANCCOB's seabird rehabilitation centre in Cape Town, a group of juvenile African penguins were released back into their home colony on Dyer Island after three months of intensive hand rearing and care.

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August 27, 2009 by dyertrust

At 10:00 a.m. on Friday the 5th December 2008, Wilfred ChivellI got a call from Stanley Carpenter, owner ofThe Whale Song Lodgein De Kelders, about an entangled whale. He rushed to the scene, and saw the whale swimming down towards Hermanus, but could only get a boat crew together at 12:30. The crew, consisting of Wilfred, Albert Scholtz, Hennie Otto and Ian Wessels, left Gansbaai Harbour aboard Calypso (8.5 m inflatable raft) after notifying the authorities. They encountered the whale after about half an hour at sea. It was entangled in one 12 mm ski rope with a buoy behind it. It was clear that this was a normal crayfish net probably used by holiday makers. They caught the rope, went right up to the whale and cut it loose. This was a successful disentanglement and special thanks go to to the crew, Albert, Hennie and Ian, for accompanying Wilfred and for lending a helping hand. A big thank you to all the other people that phoned and were concerned, especially Stanley Carpenter, who kept a watchful eye on the whale before we arrived on the scene, and for helping us locate the whale on our arrival.


August 26, 2009 by dyertrust

The Southern Right Whales are plentiful and very active in the Dyer Island area. We are in peak whale season now, after sightings began in June, and we will continue to see these whales probably right into December. There are many mating groups of males and females putting on some excellent surface viewings. The Southern Right Whales use the South African coastline for either mating or calving, depending on their "status". We have also started sighting many mothers and calves in the bay, which is excellent as these whales are still increasing after their severe decline experienced from whaling. These whales were known as the "right whales" to hunt. They are currently classified as endangered so it is always promising to see the new calves being watched closely by the large mothers. Keep a look out on the sea for beautiful black tails, and also breaching whales!


August 24, 2009 by dyertrust

Wilfred Chivell of DICT attended the launch of Sacred Ocean, a new global anti-whaling campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, on Thursday 27 November 2008. Archbishop Desmond Tutu unveiled the iconic 3.4 metre high sculpture named Sacred Ocean, consisting of five aged whale bones supporting a humpback whale mother and calf, by renowned cetacean artist and conservationist Noel Ashton. A touch-screen was also installed where visitors can register their opinions on whaling and send a "virtual postcard" of themselves and the sculpture to three friends, urging them to vote and voice their opinions of whaling. Archbishop Tutu cast the first vote to launch the campaign. Please click on the logo belowto become part of this global campaign.

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December 31, 2008 by dyertrust

On the 31st October 2008, Steve Kirkman (of Marine and Coastal Management) and Wilfred Chivell (founder of DICT) visited Geyser Rock to collect seal scat samples for an ongoing diet monitoring study. Collecting the scats found on the surface of the colony is preferable to shooting seals or immobilizing them and flushing their stomachs to obtain diet samples, methods which were used commonly on seals in the past. Sampling of scats is also much quicker and cheaper than the other approaches. Information on prey composition in the seal diet can be obtained from undigested prey remains which are often found in scats, such as fish otoliths, squid beaks, bird feathers and pieces of crustacean carapaces. Also, by taking measurements of otoliths and squid beaks, size estimates of individual prey can be obtained.

Seal diet, especially if monitored in the long term, can potentially provide a plethora of useful information for scientists and managers. Cape fur seals, as generalist feeders and top predators in the ecosystem, are expected to reflect the relative availability of different prey species in their diet. As such, their diet may provide an indicator of ecosystem changes over time, which may be caused by global climate change or over-fishing, which affect organisms lower down the food chain.

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December 31, 2008 by dyertrust

On the 19th of November 2008, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) handed over the first donation of R10 000 from the Faces of Need Sharks project to Meaghen McCord of theSouth African Shark Conservancy (SASC)in Hermanus. This project forms the basis of a collaborative five year monitoring program aimed at raising awareness about the plight of commercially exploited elasmobranches through seminars and research activities. Marine Dynamics shark cage diving clients generously donate to the Faces of Need Sharks project and DICT aims to distribute these funds to the SASC on a regular basis, to support this valuable conservation initiative.


December 19, 2008 by dyertrust

The 25th Annual Conference of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria was hosted by Antwerp Zoo in Belgium from the 16 to 20 September 2008. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was invited to address the Penguin group on the wild African Penguins. Wilfred Chivell and Lauren Waller attended the meeting on behalf of the trust and gave a presentation

on the status of African Penguins in the wild and the current threats they face, as well as latest African Penguin research and conservation projects. The talk also highlighted the role that the Dyer Island Conservation Trust is playing in these projects, and discussed the building of partnerships with European zoos and aquaria where their African penguins can act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. The talk was very well received with the members showing keen interest (and dismay) at the declining African Penguin numbers and a willingness to support conservation and research where they could.

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December 18, 2008 by dyertrust

The week of 15-19 September, National Coastal Clean-up Week, was celebrated in style, with big yellow garbage bags and matching rubber gloves, by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Mr Dreyer's Grade 6 Class from Blompark Primary. The 34 students of the class were eager participants in performing a local beach clean up along the shores of Franskraal Beach stretching to the mouth of the Uilkraal River Estuary. This clean up was part of the 23rd annual International Coastal Clean-up sponsored by Ocean Conservancy and is advertised as the "World's Largest Volunteer Effort for the Ocean". This global effort is critical for creating awareness internationally, but most importantly locally, for the impact that marine litter can have on our environment and marine life.


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November 30, 2008 by dyertrust

On the 12th September 2008, the 43 students of Heidi Chivell's grade six class from Gansbaai Primary School made an investment that most school children don't even think about. The class pooled together money from their own pockets, by saving up coins and loose change, and together bought a very important piece of real estate: an African Penguin house on Dyer Island. The class had been educated about the severe decline of the African Penguin population around the Southern African coastline, and worked together to make a contribution to assist the penguins. The houses offer the penguins and their chicks/eggs much needed protection from heat stress, extreme weather conditions, and also from predators, such as Kelp Gulls.

Following their generous donation, Mrs Chivell and the class were provided with a certificate of recognition for their purchase, and they were given a presentation on the status of the African Penguin by Tracy Shaw of DICT. Pepe Zuniga and Kari Underhill, of Dyer Island Cruises, talked to the class about DICT's "Drum it up" recycling program, and about the proper disposal of garbage, especially plastics and fishing line. When disposed of incorrectly these objects can easily make their way onto our coasts or into the sea, and can result in injury or even death of penguins and other marine life if the animals ingest or get entangled in the litter. The class was taken to the shoreline surrounding Kleinbaai harbour and participated in a mini beach clean-up as well. This demonstrated to the class how much litter can be found on our beaches, and they were taught how much of this waste can be eliminated through successful recycling or waster management. The students were a great help, and were highly enthusiastic about all of our projects.

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November 29, 2008 by dyertrust

One hundred million sharks are killed each year. Thats 100,000,000! and this huge statistic continues to grow worldwide now as you read this article. In fact, the majority of shark species now (of which over 100 live off the South African coastline) are over 90% in decline, and the worst thing is the one biggest threat to sharks is us... 'man'.

These animals are so over exploited and so helpless to our fishing vessels, something really needs to be done to help the situation. Ignorance can be bliss sometimes, but now its too late not to know simple population dynamics for our local shark species. Thats exactly the case in Gansbaai. This unique bay is renowned as shark capital of the world with Great Whites in regular abundance. However, just because the white shark is infamous in movies doesn't mean it is the only species worth protecting. Many other local species of sharks inhabit this bay such as Soupfin sharks (locally known as Vaal haai) cow sharks and Gully sharks. These species are fished with no catch limits. We cannot quota these sharks as we do not know enough about their life histories. This is why faces of need sharks is being implemented.

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November 27, 2008 by dyertrust

On the weekend of August 30th 2008, the Western Cape witnessed a massive cold front that saw high winds and extreme sea conditions which caused significant damage along the whole of the coastline. One of the victims of this harsh storm was the locally basedSouth African Shark Conservancy (SASC)in Hermanus. The SASC facility is located in one of the old whale museum buildings near the old harbour and experienced severe damages resulting from these extreme weather conditions.

The building endured both exterior and interior damages attributable to massive waves which crashed both over and against the building for two consecutive days. The enormous waves were compounded by the spring high tide with much of the damage taking place early on Monday morning (1 September) around 02:00 am. During the spring high tide on Monday afternoon (16:15 pm) SASC managing director Meaghen McCord and Programme coordinator Steve Smuts were forced to evacuate the facility. Waves reaching about 9.8m in height broke over the building and shattered most of the windows and both doors leading outside, bringing with it a torrent of seawater, mud and sea creatures. Water levels inside the facility reached about 1m and the surging waves damaged the walls and ceilings in both the education centre and the office. The walkway in front of the building was shattered and many records, documents and books were destroyed. The existing pipes and pump facilities for the new port-a-pools, which will house smoothhound shark pups, were also destroyed. Damages to the facility amounted to approximately R35 000.

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November 26, 2008 by dyertrust

Two local film crews visited Dyer Island recently, the In Sync crew (August 2008) and Wild Ltd crew (November 2008), both filmed documentaries to raise awareness of the plight of the vulnerable African Penguin and the success of the artificial nesting project. On Dyer Island, chicks that hatch late in the season (September onwards) are frequently abandoned by their parents when the weather gets too hot and as food supplies diminish. In addition, adult penguins begin their annual moult at this time of the year, rendering the birds land-bound and therefore unable to feed their chicks. If not removed from the island, these chicks will die through a lack of food or unfavourable conditions. Due to the massive decline in penguin numbers, conservation authorities remove these chicks to bolster the wild colonies. This year, 40 orphan chicks were removed from Dyer Island and transported to the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) for hand-rearing. The fledglings will then be re-introduced to the wild around mid December to January. In 2006, SANCCOB reared 841 orphaned chicks and another 481 in 2007. Research has shown that these hand-reared and released chicks show higher survivorship than their wild counterparts, making each individual chick extremely valuable in conservation efforts of this vulnerable species.


November 25, 2008 by dyertrust

African Penguins are the only penguin species that breed in Africa, and are found on offshore islands and a few land based colonies in Namibia and South Africa. Like many penguin species, the African Penguin population is in serious trouble with the breeding census figures released in 2006 documenting the lowest ever recorded number of breeding pairs since African Penguin monitoring first began in the 1950's.

In order to address this current state of affairs, the Dyer island Conservation Trust hosted the first annual African Penguin Meeting in Gansbaai from 24th -25th May 2008. This 2 day conference brought together over 30 African penguin researchers representing both South Africa and Namibia to collaborate and discuss African penguin status, conservation and management. The weekend saw representatives from CapeNature, SANParks, Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), Adjubatus, Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), DICT, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Bayworld, Avian Demography Unit (ADU), Robben Island Museum, University of Cape Town (UCT), Overstrand Municipality, and Overberg District Municipality. The conference boasted an international flair with delegates from Canada, France, Brazil and Germany.

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