November 27, 2008 by dyertrust

<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-598" title="” src=”http://old.dict.org.za/blogs/2011/09/news_fonsharkmeag.jpg” alt=”” width=”280″ height=”208″>On the weekend of August 30th 2008, the Western Cape witnessed a massive cold front that saw high winds and extreme sea conditions which caused significant damage along the whole of the coastline. One of the victims of this harsh storm was the locally basedSouth African Shark Conservancy (SASC)in Hermanus. The SASC facility is located in one of the old whale museum buildings near the old harbour and experienced severe damages resulting from these extreme weather conditions.

The building endured both exterior and interior damages attributable to massive waves which crashed both over and against the building for two consecutive days. The enormous waves were compounded by the spring high tide with much of the damage taking place early on Monday morning (1 September) around 02:00 am. During the spring high tide on Monday afternoon (16:15 pm) SASC managing director Meaghen McCord and Programme coordinator Steve Smuts were forced to evacuate the facility. Waves reaching about 9.8m in height broke over the building and shattered most of the windows and both doors leading outside, bringing with it a torrent of seawater, mud and sea creatures. Water levels inside the facility reached about 1m and the surging waves damaged the walls and ceilings in both the education centre and the office. The walkway in front of the building was shattered and many records, documents and books were destroyed. The existing pipes and pump facilities for the new port-a-pools, which will house smoothhound shark pups, were also destroyed. Damages to the facility amounted to approximately R35 000.

Following the severe storm damage to the SASC research and education facility, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, under the direction of founder Wilfred Chivell, made a generous donation of R10 000 to the SASC. The donation to the SASC will go towards helping to rebuild much of the damaged materials in the laboratory and education sections of the facility. In association with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, the South African Shark Conservancy is initiating an exciting ecosystem-based long-term monitoring program in Walker Bay. This “Faces of Need” project is focused on the conservation and sustainable utilization of two commercially valuable shark species, the soupfin shark and the sevengill cowshark. The monitoring program will collect fishery-specific and species-specific baseline data while developing an effective and holistic, ecosystem-based management approach through fisher outreach and education and public awareness activities. This is the second of our Faces of Need projects, the first of which is directed towards our vulnerable African Penguin population on Dyer Island.