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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