Our Conservation Efforts
Taking you on captivating trips at sea to meet and dive with the Great White Sharks is just one of many things we do to protect, conserve and enjoy the unique marine wildlife in the Gansbaai area. The ecosystem is interlinked and while we study and research the Great Whites and their natural habitats, we also teach and educate our guests and the local community about ways to look after and cherish nature!
Marine Dynamics, in conjunction with Dyer Island Cruises and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, are deeply involved with various and diverse research and conservation projects concerning the Marine Big Five - penguins, whales, dolphins, seals and sharks - as well as educational and upliftment programmes in the local community.
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is the result of a life-long passion for marine life by the owner of Marine Dynamics, Wilfred Chivell. The Trust was initially conceived in the late 1990s when Wilfred began building his ecotourism businesses and was officially founded in 2006. Born out of necessity to protect the endemic marine ecosystem and increasingly threatened species found here, the DICT funds and logistically supports local marine-based environmental education and research programmes to create long-term community-driven marine conservation & eco-tourism in the greater Overstrand area. DICT is a registered Public Benefit Organisation (930032314) in terms of section 30 of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 and donations to the organisation are exempt from donations tax in terms of section 56(1)(h) of the Act
Current programs/projects and activities:
- Faces of Need: African Penguin Nesting Project – We have replaced heavily exploited penguin nesting sites with artificial nests. During the mid 1800s and early 1900s, guano was harvested from the offshore islands and sold as fertilizer. The penguins now struggle to burrow into the hard, rocky substrate on Dyer and other colonies, and have been forced to nest on the surface, leaving their eggs and chicks exposed to predation by Kelp Gulls, and other environmental influences. This nest project is part of the African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan and in place in majority of the colonies with the placement of over 2000 nests. The penguins readily adapt to these nests and they have become essential in the fledgling success of this endangered species. The project originally began on Dyer Island in partnership with CapeNature with an official Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.
- Faces of Need: Great White Shark Research – The Overstrand area has been established as a hotspot for the oceans most critical and threatened apex predator. We have produced the nation’s first population estimate and can greatly influence national and international protective measures. Acoustic tagging and tracking and years of boat based observational data have helped build a better understanding of great white shark behaviour with crucial scientific papers published. Our studies have also helped in the understanding of predatory interactions and new insights into their behaviour are being revealed. Three marine biologists have completed their Master’s in this regard and further PhD studies are being supported.
- Fishing Line Disposal Bin Project – aims to reduce the severe environmental damage to animals caused by entanglement in fishing line that has been discarded along our coastline. Monofilament fishing line, line used for shore based and small boat based angling, is one of the major causes of marine life mortality – yearly we find dozens of fauna entangled in fishing line - this project is aimed at saving these seabirds and marine mammals from a sure death. The Overstrand Municipality is a partner of the DICT with this project providing much needed logistical, monitoring and management of the project along the Overstrand Coastline.
- African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary – Seabirds in distress are rescued and stabilized at our world class rehabilitation facility, the. This facility has a fully equipped lab and a vet on standby so we can immediately treat any birds thereby increasing their survival rate, especially that of the endangered African penguin.
- Marine Animal Strandings – May include whales, whale sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, seals - these are rescued, stabilized, and transported to rehabilitation facilities, where possible. We own a fully equipped boat for whale disentanglement, as well as a specially developed rescue floatation cradle, and have specially trained staff to handle any disentanglement that might arise. Any samples are passed on to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Mammal Research Institute (University of Pretoria).
- Environmental Education – The Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP works with dedicated groups of young learners from a disadvantaged background and runs for three years to monitor and evaluate the impact and growth of each and every individual learner. Our aim is to expose these young learners to the field of science and conservation and serve as a forerunner for future skills training. We also work with many local schools supporting their education efforts and work with the Dibanisa Football Foundation who coordinate a regular learning programme.
- Shark Egg Case Collection Program – this conservation and marine education project brings students into the field to collect shark egg cases on designated beaches fortnightly; students then identify species distribution of these lesser known species. This information is fed back to the project coordinator.
- Continuous studies and research on the Southern Right Whale, the Humpback Whale as well as the Cape Fur Seal population on Geyser Rock are done in partnership with various institutions. It includes feeding, behavioural and migratory patterns.
- Contributing to the extensive photo-identification catalogue of the Indian Ocean humpback dolphins for South Africa to create a population study and an assessment of habitat use, residency, movement and dispersal patterns.