Waddle for Penguins 2014

March 07, 2014 by dyertrust

It is that time of year again, 16 people waddling along the Western Cape coastal roads, attempting to cover 120kms in 6 days.

Madness?

No, they are doing this for a mightily good cause, to raise awareness about the plight of the This year was the first time for the Primo Group, as they became known, to use The coordination of activities for a group of 20 people is always a huge challenge, when we started the negotiations with this group we very quickly realized that there is a language barrier. Luck was on our side, as we have a wonderful young lady by the name of Francesca N. Manca, from Udine in Italy, who we met in 2012 when she joined our Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises family as a guide on our Whale Eco Trips and Shark Cage diving operations. Wilfred Chivell, owner of Marine Dynamics and founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, invited Francesca to accompany the group as translator, coordinator and guideand we flew her over at our own cost from Italy to assist us with the Primo Group.

Without Francesca the language barrier during their visit would have been a struggle, as she in addition to coordinating the group also translated our lectures and presentation to ensure that the operations of Marine Dynamics and, research/scientific achievements of the DICT was conveyed clearly to all the students.

Dr. Micarellis return every year ensures that they have a study sample consistent over a long period of time, which in turn contributes to data credibility. Since 2005 there has been a very important colloboration developed between Dr. Micarelli and Dr. Emilio Sperone from the University Calabria, who shares the Scientific coordination for the expidition with Dr. Micarelli, as well as the coordination of the data collection. 2015 will be the 10th year of their colloboration and they have developed a very strong relationship. He is accompanied yearly by a wide array of students from various Universities. This time the participants were from Universities of Roma, Ferrara, Marche, Pavia, Udine, Napoli and Calabria. Occasionally students join him for a return visit, but more often than not it is different students visiting every time.

Having new students joining ever year can have its own challenges, such as making sure that the data is comparative and consistent. But this is no problem for Dr. Micarelli, as the first day of their arrival is always spent on coordinating everyones activities and duties on the boat during their trips, which includes a series of lecturesabout the methods for collecting ethological data, principles and the use of photography and underwater videography, biology of sharks, with a special focus on the Great White Shark, the evolution of elasmobranchs, strategies of elasmobranchs conservation and discussion fo daily data collection.

One person will be in charge of taking photos on the lower deck, one on the upper deckone person takes water sampling data (Temperature and records depth of location), whilst other people are responsible for observing and documenting certain types of behaviour of the Great White Sharks that visit the boat (spy hopping, lateral and parallel passing etc.).

Two dedicated videographers, Daniele Giglioli and Enrico Rabboni is in charge of filming the expedition as well as certain aspects of the study. Enrico Rabboni invented a special decoy, in the shape of a seal, with a GoPro camera installed in the stomach region of the decoy. This decoy takes footage of sharks approaches from beneath, making it easier for the group to later on record and identification the individual sharks which visited the boat, as well as distinctive features, and very importantly the way in which the sharks interact with the decoy, as well as the time spent by each shark investigating the decoys. This was also the first year the Enrico used a drone to film from overhead, and everyone is very interested to see what is going to come out of this aspect of the study.

Interestingly, there is also a second decoy used (exclusively by Dr. Micarelli)and part of the study is to see what the difference in approach and interest is to the two different decoys. The GoPro decoy emits electromagnetism due to the electronicsand the other decoy is a plain black decoy with no special features. For more information about their studies, please visit Dr. Primo Micarelli has led a life of science, he once taught as a Professor at universities, and he is still the owner of a wonderful Aquarium in Italy. The There is also big focus on Environmental Education, and various tanks and touch zones provides hours of entertainment to hundreds of children and their families that visit the Aquarium. Their newest exhibit to the Aquarium Mondo Marino is known as the Explora Del Mondo Marino alle Terre Emersewhere one can explore the evolution of the marine environment of a once submerged aquatic world. This exhibit boasts a life sized replica of a Great White Shark, a replica of a Megalodon Shark jaw, as well as examples of the evolution of Ammonites in particular. For more information please visit This is the start of a very exciting relationship between Marine Dynamics and the Centro Studi Squali, and we are looking forward to their next visit in 2015. Ciao!!