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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