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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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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