In the second part of our student projects from Global Leadership Adventures, we touch on the topic of marine pollution.

The team of Dyer Island Conservation Trust / Marine Dynamics have a few projects aimed at addressing marine pollution. Our fishing line bin project has been in place since 2010 and stretches along the South African coastline. In 2019, we started Project Storm – catchment nets for the storm water drains. We also do many beach clean ups, but we need everyone to play their part to minimise waste reaching our oceans. You can read more about our projects at the Clean Marine page.

**Please note that the write ups have been edited and shortened for blog publishing purposes. Sources were referenced by students when submitting their projects.

Project by Aubrey, Michelle and Ross

Whilst the project was ideally a press release, this group took on a more campaign feel and was edited accordingly.

Title:  Plastic Pollution and South African penguins

Plastic Pollution has become a hot topic in marine conservation. That is just so sad but what is worse is its effects on the African Penguin, an endemic species to South Africa and Namibia.  We created two penguin characters that we hope will help tell the story of this problem and encourage behaviour change.

Hi there!  My name is Tuxy and I am an African penguin known for my tuxedo looking coat, hence the name.  I live on Dyer Island, which is off the coast of Gansbaai, just a few hours from Cape Town.  This is one of the only homes left for penguins like me.  Sadly, many years ago, people once considered our eggs a delicacy, imagine that. More than 13 million eggs were removed causing an obvious and devastating impact on our population. Then our habitat of guano which was ideal to help protect us from the elements and predators was also removed and used for agricultural fertilizer. Thankfully, many good people realised that if these practices did not stop, we would not be around any longer.

Sadly, the water surrounding my beautiful island is being slowly filled with plastic and trash.  Plastic is awful for our environment and for penguins.  Things like plastic rings (the things you put around a 6-pack of coke) get around young animals like me and we get stuck in them.  When they get around our neck it causes disastrous effects like cutting off our blood circulation or choking animals like me.

This is my friend Sandy – she is one of my cute feathered friends.  I quite like her. When Sandy was little, she got this ring stuck around her neck and has not been able to get it off.  For a while, we thought it was a necklace but soon realized it was a plastic ring that would get tighter and tighter the bigger she would grow.  Luckily, Sandy was taken to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary and they cut off this awful ring and now Sandy is back with me on Dyer Island.  If it were not for that caretaker, Sandy would have died.  So, you see plastic pollution is an awful thing for birds and animals like me.  Next time you are at the beach or outside please throw your trash in a bin, and if you want to take it one step further recycle that plastic.  Something as simple as recycling your 6-pack plastic coke ring can save animals from the problems this ring causes and can save our lives.

Sandy and I are doing well, and we have two little penguin babies of our own now.  We called them Hope and Blue.

(Written by Aubrey)


Students from various states in America signed up for the online course offered by Global Leadership Adventures. With Covid-19 preventing the Marine Dynamics Academy from learning and working with students onsite, this was the first time the team of marine biologists took the work online and overall, the course was ranked very highly. Global Leadership Adventures conducts leadership programs with a purpose, exclusively for teens and young adults. Our team wholeheartedly supports their mission which is to ‘Inspire the Next Generation to Realize their Potential to Transform the World and their Role In It’ and were very impressed with the students who were all clearly committed to making a difference for conservation and community. The students aged between 13 to 19 were tasked to work in teams on projects and for this round they were allocated a press release and infographic assignment that related to African penguin conservation.

Penguin Plastic Piece

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(Designed by Ross)