February 03, 2010 by dyertrust

The recently reported 300m oil slick (Cape Argus 16.01.10 & Cape Times 17.01.10) assumed to come from the iron ore carrier, the Treasure, which sunk ten years ago off the West Coast, is great cause for concern. Even though it was subsequently reported that the slick had broken up, the oil still remains a hazard for marine animals. The concern is those birds and marine mammals that can be affected without our awareness and die out at sea. It would be good to see stronger measures implemented by Government to deal with off shore oil pollution and not just that affecting our immediate coastline.

SANCCOB is on high alert for possible oiling of seabirds as the slick could affect Dassen Island, and its seabird population, including that of the African penguin, a species considered Vulnerable.

The Treasure, was carrying 1300 tons of fuel oil which led to the oil spill in 2000 that affected 19 000 coastal birds and was the biggest coastal bird rescue effort in South Africa.

See more onAnne Voorbergen is an MSc student from Wageningen University (the Netherlands) and has been on Dyer Island, with the support of CapeNature, for four months. Doing fieldwork for her thesis on the natural Kelp Gull predation of the Cape Cormorant, she has the incredible privilege of witnessing their behaviour on a daily basis.

An observation tower was erected on the Island at the end of 2009 and it is from this structure that Anne gets to monitor the interactions between gulls and cormorants and now even the seals.


I monitored Cape Cormorant colonies of different sizes and collected data on the predation by Kelp Gulls as well as any influence of human disturbance. Since the Cape Cormorant chicks are fledged now, they all take their first swim along the coastline where Cape Fur seals are waiting to have an easy meal. Since a few weeks ago, I have started to monitor this as well. This happens especially during the first part of the day; one morning I counted 16 kills in one hour for a small part of the Island. Since I will have data of both predators I can make a comparison between the two; which predator has more impact on the Dyer Island Cape Cormorant population.

Anne will leave the Island the first week of February. It has been a privilege to work with the birds and study their behaviour and although I will miss them, I am quite ready to meet the real world again!