FEEDBACK FROM DYER ISLAND RESEARCHER

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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WHALE FESTIVAL 24-27 SEPTEMBER

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

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SPRING CHARITY EVENT 24 OCTOBER 2009

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 Waltersbrenda@dict.org.za

Click hereto open the invite


RISSO DOLPHIN STRANDED AT DANGER POINT

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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GIANT PETREL WAS BITTEN BY A GREAT WHITE SHARK

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.


MASS WHALE STRANDING IN CAPE TOWN

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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THE WHALES ARE BACK

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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ABSA DONATES MATERIAL TO NOLWANDLE CRAFTS

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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WHALE STRANDING AT ROMANSBAAI

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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2ND INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN PENGUIN CONFERENCE

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.

FYNBOS ECOTOURISM FORUM SUPPORTS DICT

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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DYER ISLAND CONSERVATION TRUST HONOURED FOR WORK AT BOULDERS

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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UPDATE ON RETRIEVED OYSTERCATCHER

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.

 


THE PENGUIN HOUSING PROJECT FEATURED IN FAIRLADY MAGAZINE

September 10, 2009 by dyertrust


STRIPED DOLPHIN FOUND NEAR DYER ISLAND

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.


INTERNATIONAL RADIO INTERVIEWS ON DYER ISLAND

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.


ZAMBEZI SHARK EXPEDITION

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


SEAL RESEARCHERS VISIT GEYSER ROCK

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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VISIT BY GERMAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER AND GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO SA

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 (www.grootbos.com) 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 (www.grootbos.com) 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.


GANSBAAI ACQUIRES ITS OWN PERMANENT WHALES!

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.


NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FOR BOULDERS BEACH

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.


BIRD ISLAND PENGUINS RECEIVE SOME WELCOME HOMES!

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.