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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