Plett Ocean Festival Marine Science Symposium and Activities

Plett Marine Science Symposium

Plett Marine Science Symposium takes place from Fri 1 July – Sun 3 July 2022.

Scroll down for detailed information and to make your booking. Options for day passes are available.

DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAMME | BOOK ONLINE

Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme

Danielle Conry (MSc Zoology)

Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme

From the Southern Ocean sunny South Africa: A story about killer whale research in South Africa

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 10h00 – 11h00 | PRICE: R80 | BOOK ONLINE

From the roaring forties of the southern ocean to the sunny shores of South Africa; this is a story about killer whale research in South Africa.

Having just returned from a year on Marion, a remote subantarctic island belonging to South Africa, working for the Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme, Conry shares her experiences of working with Marion Island’s killer whales while giving an overview of the programme and what is currently known about this population of enchanting marine mammals.

But, with an apparent increase in sightings along the Southern African coastline, one doesn’t necessarily need to visit the southern ocean to have a lucky encounter with the ocean’s apex predator.

Exciting new research on the killer whales off our coastline is already starting to reveal some of their secrets. Find out how you can help contribute to discovering more about South Africa’s killer whales.

(30-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

About Danielle Conry

Marine biologist Danielle Conry has been involved in marine mammal research as a volunteer, student and biologist over the last 15 years. Her passion for cetaceans began at a young age and in high school she began volunteering with the Mammal Research Institute’s Whale Unit with a project on the feeding ecology of southern right whales along the West Coast.

With an intense passion for killer whales, Danielle is now part of the 78th overwintering expedition to Marion Island as a killer whaler/sealer for the Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme. To spend a year in this wild, subantarctic paradise collecting data on not only killer whales, but also southern elephant seals, subantarctic fur seals and Antarctic fur seals is a dream come true for her.

Shortly before the expedition to Marion Island she became involved with research aimed at a better understanding of the killer whales off South Africa’s coastline, and she was based in Plettenberg Bay where she worked within the ORCA Foundation.

After completing a master’s degree at NMU assessing the abundance and habitat use of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins along the garden route, she felt it was important to continue collecting data on this endangered species and, with the help of Dr. Gwen Penry, started up the Plett humpback dolphin project, and was also involved in the local Plettenberg Bay Stranding Network.


Keurbooms estuary

Dr. Chantel Elston (PhD Ichthyology and Fisheries Science)

South African Aquatic Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB); Oceans Research Conservation Africa (ORCA) Foundation.

What lives in the Keurbooms estuary?

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 11h15 – 11h45 | PRICE: R60 | BOOK ONLINE

Have you ever swum, navigated by watercraft, or walked along the shores of the Keurbooms estuary and wondered what lives in there? That’s what a collaborative project between SAIAB and the ORCA Foundation are trying to find out!

Since April 2021, marine scientist Dr Chantel Elston and the ORCA team have deployed a BRUV system in the estuary almost every single week. This BRUV system consists of a weighted rig, with a GoPro and bait bag attached. The bait attracts whatever is in the area, and the GoPro records it.

Through waters of all different colours, blue, green and even red, this project has discovered some amazing life living in the Keurbooms estuary. Join the presentation to see some exciting underwater footage and to learn what kinds of animals lurk below the surface of the Keurbooms waters.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to the Orca Foundation.

(15-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Chantel Elston

About Dr. Chantel Elston

Dr Chantel Elston is a passionate marine scientist and science communicator. She is mildly obsessed with stingrays and her PhD work focussed on identifying an important stingray nursery in Seychelles which was declared as a Marine Protected Area.

Now, her postdoctoral research at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity has brought her to the beautiful Garden Route, where she is studying the stingrays of Plett’s very own Keurbooms estuary.

She also runs an exciting citizen science project called ELMO Africa which encourages everybody to submit their own sightings of sharks, rays and mermaids purses to aid in their conservation.


Humpback dolphins along the Garden Route

Gareth Greenwood (Bsc (Hons) Zoology)

Ignite Adventures

Humpback dolphins along the Garden Route

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 12h00 – 13h00 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

Gareth Greenwood will focus on Humpback dolphins with a conservation outlook and perspective on this species in South Africa and along the Garden Route. He examines their ecology and life-history traits, while also looking at what threatens them.

To determine the Humpback dolphin’s conservation status concerted effort has been made to identify their population trends along the Southern Cape coast. The presentation will leave you with guidance on you can help the conservation efforts toward this amazing species of Dolphin.

(30-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Gareth Greenwood

About Gareth Greenwood

I’m a man with an honours degree in Zoology, who is passionate about developing and inspiring young people to reach their full potential. I grew up in Plettenberg Bay, where I lived according to the ocean tides and wind direction. On days when the wind blew offshore, I was surfing. When the wind blew onshore, I was fishing. The ocean with all its lessons was my classroom. 

One thing leads to another, and I set out to solve the sea’s problems by becoming a Marine Biologist. Once I’d qualified, I found instead a far deeper problem to solve.  How to help young people navigate their way to fulfillment, in a rising tide of demands, stresses and agenda-based advice. And how to create lives enriched with meaning and purpose.

Once I’d met Jim Musto, the owner and coordinator of Quest Africa – a gap-year program for young men – I took his job offer and he took on my wealth of natural environment knowledge and my adventure interests. Nothing had prepared me for the life-changing experience of helping young men and women understand how they think, and challenging and helping them to reach their full potential.

Inspired, I went back to University and studied to become a Biology teacher. As an assistant in the Somerset College boarding house, my mentoring skills were refined, and having begun teaching Biology, I completed a life coaching course through the UCT Graduate School of Business.

It was at this point that I created Ignite – an adventure-based personal development program for students looking for direction. My heart is to share my adventure interests in a way that leaves young people challenged and excited, helping them meet their full potential. And all of this, in places of exquisite natural beauty, where they find life, and life lessons in abundance: where they’ll find themselves, their values, their abilities and their dreams.


help save sharks

Dr. Chantel Elston (PhD Ichthyology and Fisheries Science)

South African Aquatic Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB); Oceans Research Conservation Africa (ORCA) Foundation

Become a citizen scientist and help save sharks

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 14h30 – 15h00 | PRICE: R60 | BOOK ONLINE

Everyday people, like yourselves, can become citizen scientists and collect data to help marine biologists study and protect sharks! ELMO Africa relies on you to submit information on any shark or ray you may encounter. If you see a shark or ray while fishing, diving, snorkeling, or even walking along Robberg, simply submit the date, location and photo of your sighting using ELMO’s very own app.

Some shark species lay eggs that wash up on our beaches after the pup has hatched. These egg cases are sometimes called mermaid’s purses. If you’re walking along the beach and happen to spot a mermaid’s purse, ELMO also wants to know about that. The data is stored in the database and is available for any scientist, the government and other interested stakeholders to use in their relevant projects, and provides necessary information to make informed decisions about the conservation of our amazing sharks and rays.

(15 minute presentation followed by Q&A)

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to the Orca Foundation.

Chantel Elston

About Dr. Chantel Elston

Dr Chantel Elston is a passionate marine scientist and science communicator. She is mildly obsessed with stingrays and her PhD work focussed on identifying an important stingray nursery in Seychelles which was declared as a Marine Protected Area.

Now, her postdoctoral research at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity has brought her to the beautiful Garden Route, where she is studying the stingrays of Plett’s very own Keurbooms estuary.

She also runs an exciting citizen science project called ELMO Africa which encourages everybody to submit their own sightings of sharks, rays and mermaids purses to aid in their conservation.


Marion Island’s Seabirds

Dr Anton Wolfaardt (PhD)

Mouse-Free Marion Non-Profit Company; Birdlife South Africa

Saving Marion Island’s Seabirds: The Mouse-Free Marion Project

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 15h15 – 16h15 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

Marion Island is the larger of the two sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands in the south-west Indian Ocean. The islands are globally important breeding sites for seabirds and other wildlife, including almost half the world’s Wandering Albatrosses, millions of other seabirds and other species of wildlife (some of which are found nowhere else in the world). Marion Island is facing a grave threat. House Mice inadvertently introduced by sealers in the early 19th century, are having a devastating impact on the ecology of the island.

A warmer and drier climate over the last 30 years has contributed to increased densities of mice on the island each summer, causing a shortage of invertebrates, upon which the mice have been surviving in the winter months. This shortage of food has driven mice to find alternative food sources.  As on other oceanic islands, the mice found many of the seabirds had no defence against their attacks, and were literally “sitting ducks” 

The scale and frequency of attacks has been increasing since they were first observed in the early 2000s, and have escalated dramatically in the last 5 years. Left unchecked on Marion Island, the mice are likely to cause the local extinction of the majority of seabird species that breed on the island.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Advances in the technology and techniques used to eradicate rodents from large islands have led to increasingly ambitious and successful restoration campaigns.

Informed by the outcomes of a feasibility study and internationally agreed best practice, the South African Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment and BirdLife South Africa are collaborating to implement an eradication operation to restore Marion Island and rescue its seabird populations.

In this presentation, Dr Anton Wolfaardt, the Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager, will provide an overview of Marion Island, and the ambitious project to eradicate mice from the island and reclaim it for its globally important seabirds and other wildlife.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to the Mouse-Free Marion Non-Profit Company.

(35-40 minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Dr Anton Wolfaardt

About Dr Anton Wolfaardt

Anton has worked for more than 25 years in the field of seabird and marine conservation, starting on Marion Island in 1994, as a seabird field researcher. He moved on to Dassen Island for five years as a contract researcher and later as the conservation manager of the island. Back in South Africa, Anton took up the post of Regional Ecologist for CapeNature.

In 2008, Anton headed to the Falkland Islands to take up the newly created position of ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels) Co-ordinator for the United Kingdom (UK) South Atlantic Overseas Territories, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha (including Gough Island) and the UK’s interest in Antarctica.

He returned to South Africa in 2013 and continued to serve as the Co-convenor of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group as an environmental consultant focussing on seabird and marine issues, as well as a lecturer and guide on expedition ships visiting the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. In February 2021 Anton took up the position of Project Manager to eradicate introduced house mice from Marion Island.


The Gazebo – Network and a taste of Plett wines

DATE: 01 July 2022 | TIME: 16h30 – 18h30 | PRICE: FREE| BOOK ONLINE

5pm short talk on the Robberg Coastal Corridor by Kei Heyns

Kei Heyns

About Kei Heyns

Senior Conservation Ranger of the Robberg Coastal Corridor Protected Environment

It was serendipity that in 2018  Chris van Christierson, one of the founder members of the RCCPE read an article about Kei Heyns and his achievements as Senior Conservation Ranger at the Gourits-East Coastal Corridor, the Fransmanshoek Conservancy. Kei had just won The Cape Fox Best Managed Conservancy Award, a tremendous achievement; he was subsequently elected to the Executive Council of Conservation at Work, an umbrella organization for all the conservancies in the Western Cape.

It was obvious that Kei had the knowledge, motivation, passion and skills to become both the Senior Ranger of the Robberg Coastal Corridor Protected Environment and to set up and run the Wildside Hiking Trail, turning it into a financially sustainable project for the long term benefit of conservation.

And most fortunately for Plettenberg Bay, a sixth-generation Plettonian, he accepted the challenge and returned home to commence a highly demanding position.

After sailing around the world, Kei studied Nature Conservation at Nelson Mandela University winning the top student of the year award in 2011, an award he won annually together with the Fairfield Award for two years, with distinctions in all subjects and B Tech cum laude for both his diploma and 4th year studies, turning down the offer of fully sponsored tuition for his master’s degree for a job at the Fransmanshoek Conservancy.

Kei brings a wealth of experience to his position which is not just a job but a deep-seated passion and philosophy and connection with nature.  Conservation is a personal endeavour and he is a firm believer in socio-ecological systems thinking – landscape and human interaction; every system has a resilience and forward planning can assist in handling shocking events such as we have witnessed over the past few years.


Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale

Lloyd Edwards, Naturalist / Marine Biologist

Raggy Charters / The Baywatch Project

The Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Migration Route (SHHWMR)

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 09h30 – 10h30 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

The SHHWMR started at the “Welcoming the Whales Festival” in Port Elizabeth in 2018. Last year it welcomed the humpback whales at 25 venues from Swakopmund in Namibia to Watamu in Kenya. Initially only a talk was given and then it was broadened to become a festival with different speakers and activities.  While humpback whales were nearly hunted to extinction between 1908 and 1976, their numbers are now close to pre-exploitation numbers. All this took was a paradigm shift. It was not only humpback whales that suffered at the hands of the whalers, but all of the other large species which have not yet recovered as quickly.

At present, climate change, ship strikes, entanglements in fishing gear and plastic pollution are their main threats. It was because of this that Raggy Charters, under the banner of the World Cetacean Alliance WCA, linked communities together along the route of the migrating whales.  During 2019 Edwards travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Argentina, Brazil and Chile in order to link the whole of the Southern hemisphere humpback migration. Unfortunately Covid intervened and this initiative needs to be revisited.

During 2021 a petition was presented to the Minister of Environmental Affairs to put pressure on the rock lobster industry to switch to rope-less fishing. The minister’s office requested engagement with DFFE first to try and work out a compromise. Edwards has addressed the senior managers and awaits their word on addressing the Fisheries Management Working Group. It is unacceptable that beautiful Bryde’s, Southern Right and Humpback whales have to die a slow and agonising death when it can be prevented. If there is no joy by the beginning of June 2022 when the festivals commence, a campaign will be launched against the rock lobster fishery.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to Raggy Charters.

(40 minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Lloyd Edwards

About Lloyd Edwards

Lloyd was born in Port Elizabeth and has spent many years next to, on and in Algoa Bay! After 17 years of service in the Special Branch of the South African Police, he decided to do a 180-degree career change. It was his love for the ocean that led him to start the Baywatch Marine Conservation Project in 1992. It is the oldest self-funded marine conservation project in Africa.  Five years later he started Raggy Charters which does marine cruises in order to raise funds for marine conservation.

The main focus of the Baywatch project is to educate the community and especially the youth about the marine environment and the need for its protection and conservation. Marine research, anti-pollution projects and offsetting carbon footprint, the rehabilitation of wetlands and other sensitive areas are also given attention. Recently, projects like the anti demersal shark long lining, campaigning for the use of buoy-less and rope-less options for the rock lobster fishing industry which are notorious for entangling and killing whales and the anti-ship to ship fuel transfers in Algoa Bay which have caused an 81% drop in the endangered African penguin population, have been given priority.

 In 2005 Lloyd held the first function to welcome the whales to Algoa Bay. In 2018 the first “Welcoming the Whales Festival” was held in Port Elizabeth. Besides focusing on the Southern African Humpback Whale Migration, the festivals also address various factors that are harmful to whales and the marine environment. Last year this had spread to 25 venues in four countries and this year we are hoping for 30 venues in 6 countries. After visiting and doing much work on similar routes in Australasia and South America, the work will continue post-Covid.


Boat-based whale-watching in Plettenberg Bay

Dr. Minke Witteveen (PhD Oceanography)

Nelson Mandela University

Assessing the ecological and social sustainability of boat-based whale-watching in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 10h45 – 11h45 | PRICE: R100 | CANCELLED

We are sorry to inform you that Minke Witteveen’s presentation has been canceled. Her baby has decided to arrive early and she is unable to be with us. Our apologies for any inconvenience. We’d love to see you at the festival, so please consider booking another session.

Whale and dolphin watching is the fastest growing marine tourism sector globally. However, in order to create or maintain sustainability, socio-economic benefits must not outweigh environmental costs.

The South African boat-based whale-watching (BBWW) industry was formalized in 1998 and, owing to the early development of permit regulations and operating protocols, is globally perceived as one of the most sustainable of its kind. However, many aspects of the industry have not been assessed, including the ecological and social sustainability.

To address this need, a 3-year study was undertaken to: measure the behavioural responses of whales and dolphins to vessel approaches and encounters; assess the effectiveness of existing guidelines to mitigate potential negative impacts; and determine levels of customer satisfaction in relation to their perceptions and expectations of the industry.

Data were collected between 2018 and 2020 using a variety of methods including land-based behavioural observations and theodolite tracking of cetaceans and vessels; boat-based experimental interactions with cetaceans; and questionnaires to BBWW operators and clients.

This presentation will share the results of the study, and discuss recommendations for the BBWW industry going forward.

(45-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Minke Witteveen

About Minke Witteveen

Minke Witteveen has her PhD in Oceanography which focussed on the ecological and social sustainability of boat-based whale-watching tourism in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Nelson Mandela University.

She is passionate about the natural environment and conservation, and enjoys pursuing her interests in a wide variety of topics, as well as instilling passion for conservation through environmental education.


Keurbooms estuary

Pierre De Villiers, Senior Manager, Marine and Coasts Operations, Cape Nature

Marine Protected Areas

Their value in terms of ecosystems and biological diversity and socio-economic value.

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 12h00 – 12h45 | PRICE: R80 | BOOK ONLINE

The aim is to integrate marine and coastal management into the broader CapeNature management fields while focussing on the more specialised marine and coastal work that needs to be done along the Western Cape coastline.

Understanding the critical link between oceans and the more terrestrial catchment to coast field is vital. This effectively integrates all conservation efforts from land care to freshwater flows and finally to the conservation of the estuarine and marine environment

Proceeds of this presentation will be donated to Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

(30-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Pierre De Villiers

About Pierre De Villiers

Pierre completed his MSc. in Fisheries Science at Rhodes University and has remained in the conservation field during his career.

Pierre has grown up diving and surfing from his early days in KZN, via the dry Karoo working for Free State Environmental Affairs, to the cold oceans of the Western Cape.

Ecosystems form part of our daily lives, we need to take care of them as we do our families and friends.


Seals on Robberg in Plett

Dr. Minke Witteveen (PhD Oceanography)

Nelson Mandela University, Plettenberg Bay Stranding Network

AND

Chanel Hauvette (Senior Marine Ranger)

CapeNature, Plettenberg Bay Stranding Network

Marine life strandings in Plettenberg Bay and surrounds

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 14h00 – 15h00 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

Many marine animals (turtles, penguins, dolphins, and whales) need assistance when they are found ashore. To address this need in Plettenberg Bay, the Plett Stranding Network (PSN) was formed.

The PSN is made up of a team of dedicated volunteers working to respond to marine animals ashore in Plettenberg Bay and its surrounds.

Join us as we chat through how to respond to different animals that can be found ashore in Plett, and share the results of our efforts since 2018.

(45-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Minke Witteveen

About Minke Witteveen

Minke Witteveen has her PhD in Oceanography which focussed on the ecological and social sustainability of boat-based whale-watching tourism in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Nelson Mandela University.

She is passionate about the natural environment and conservation, and enjoys pursuing her interests in a wide variety of topics, as well as instilling passion for conservation through environmental education.

Chanel Hauvette

About Chanel Hauvette

Senior Marine Field Ranger of Robberg Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, CapeNature, Chanel has a wide range of experience in the marine conservation and tourism industry.

Having gained her National Diploma in Nature Conservation and going on to working in the commercial whale watching industry as a marine guide, a volunteer coordinator of a marine programme, a conservation manager at both a wildlife rehabilitation centre and on a private island in the Seychelles, a seabird rehabilitator at SANCCOB Saves Seabirds and having gained experience at sea through various marine research trips and NSRI voluntarily hours, she carries a wealth of knowledge of the ocean and how to traverse it by boat.

Over a course of ten years, she has practiced her rescue, stabilisation, logistics and release efforts of marine wildlife along our coastline, hence earning her the responsibility of managing the Plett Marine Animal Stranding Network.


Lacey Williams, PhD and Bruce Noble, Naturalist

Plett White Shark Research Project (Oceans Research, Apex Predators, University of Miami)

www.oceansresearch.com

The White Sharks of Plettenberg Bay

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 15h15 – 16h15 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

The White Sharks of Plettenberg Bay is a presentation that tells the story of the resident winter white shark population of Plett and answers the questions of why they come here, why their behaviour is so different to that of white sharks in the rest of the world and also shows how they have adapted their hunting techniques for shallow water.

The presentation includes input from the research team, including Emmy Award nominee, Chris Fallows, internationally famous for his Air Jaws documentaries which have been aired on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week for over 20 years, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, marine ecologist and associate research professor of shark research at the university of Miami, Dr, Enrico Gennari, director of research at Ocean’s Research.

The presentation is prepared by Bruce Noble, a founding member of the Plett White Shark Research Project and Lacey Williams PhD. University of Miami, and will be presented by Lacey.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to the Plett White Shark Research Project.

(40 minute presentation followed by Q&A)

About Lacey Williams

Lacey Williams was born and raised in Washington, DC, attending Colgate University for her tertiary studies, in which she excelled. After graduating magna cum laude, Williams spent a year gaining experience in various pursuits and in 2017 moved to Cape Town where she worked on a great white shark cage diving boat with white shark expert and world-renowned wildlife photographer, Chris Fallows. Lacey assisted with several ongoing research projects on great white sharks, where she met her current advisor at the University of Miami, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag.

Due to that research, Williams was co-author of a peer-reviewed paper published in the online journal, Scientific Reports, in February of this year. In 2019 she assisted with two major research projects in South Africa, the first of which evaluated the efficacy of the De Hoop Marine Protected Area, South Africa’s flagship marine reserve, in protecting smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) and six other endemic shark species from commercial shark fishing pressure using acoustic telemetry and Baited Remote Underwater Video surveys (BRUVs).

The second project became the focus of her master’s thesis and investigated the natural predatory interactions between great white sharks and Cape fur seals in Plettenberg Bay. During her master’s degree, Williams was a member of the Shark Research and Conservation program publishing a second peer-reviewed article in Ecology’s “The Scientific Naturalist” online journal that highlighted a unique and understudied behavioral interaction and received international media attention, including Forbes magazine and Science News.

Upon completion of her master’s defense in May of 2022, Williams returned to South Africa where she is now the head field specialist for the Oceans Research Institute in Mossel Bay. Currently, she manages the internship program and various ongoing research projects on the white sharks and local marine fauna within Mossel Bay.


Mike Kantey

The History of the Whaling Station

DATE: 02 July 2022 | TIME: 16h30 – 18h30 | PRICE: FREE| BOOK ONLINE

Networking and a taste of Plett wines from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm at The Gazebo at the Beacon Island Resort. Mike Kantey will deliver a short talk on the history of the whaling station at 5 pm.

About Mike Kantey

Mike Kantey, having spent the first 50 years of his life in Cape Town, moved to Plettenberg Bay in 2007, where he started his own publishing house, the Watermark Press, consisting largely of Plett-based authors. This after a long career in the book publishing, media & development sector.

During the last ten years, he has also published his own work: a two-volume family history; A Brief, Illustrated History of Plettenberg Bay; a book on the anti-nuclear struggle (he has also been an activist for over forty years); and more recently, his eyewitness account of madness and incarceration.

Arising from his work on the committee of the Van Plettenberg History Society under the late Peter Tullis and Clive Noble, he also started the Watercourse History Festival in Plettenberg Bay, which is now in its fourth year.


Kuhle Hlati (MSc)

Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) | Branch: Oceans and Coasts, Cape Town, South Africa

The sounds of marine mammals in Plettenberg Bay

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 09h00 – 10h00 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

Marine mammals have developed vocal production mechanisms used for echolocation and communication. Vocal communication plays an important role in social interactions in many species such as the bottlenose dolphin which has individually distinctive signature whistles that are highly stereotyped and function as contact calls.

Classic cetacean surveys have used traditional visual methods to detect the animals, however, there is a growing recognition that for some animals it is easier to hear them than to see them due to the fact that they spend most of their time submerged below the sea surface.

As a result of technological progress, there is now increasing awareness of the usefulness of Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) for surveying and studying cetaceans in their natural environment. PAM entails the deployment of hydrophone instruments, designed to detect and register sounds transmitted underwater at different frequencies.

Acoustic monitoring can be conducted all day and during unfavourable weather conditions that limit or prevent effective visual surveys. PAM is regarded as a cost-effective and non-intrusive method for monitoring dolphins and whales and acoustic surveys also require fewer personnel.

During this presentation, we are going to explore the amazing sounds of whales and dolphins that visit Plettenberg Bay.

(40-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Kuhle Hlati

About Kuhle Hlati

Kuhle Hlati is a scientific technician at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), where she provides scientific technical support on marine top predator research focusing on sharks and turtles. She has a background in biological oceanography, marine top predator and marine mammal bioacoustics.

A trained Marine Mammal Observer and Passive Acoustic Monitor with experience in land-based, ship-based and boat-based marine mammal observations, Kuhle has a strong interest in ocean soundscape especially identifying sources of anthropogenic noise in the ocean and how they affect marine biodiversity.

Her other interests include environmental education and citizen science initiatives, she participates in numerous environmental education initiatives by DEFF to promote passive acoustic monitoring.


Kyle Smith (MSc)

South African National Parks

Challenges facing recreational fishing in the Garden Route – time for new initiatives and methods

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 10h15 – 11h00 | PRICE: R80 | BOOK ONLINE

Effective fishery management requires an understanding of how fish populations respond to fishing pressure but importantly also requires an understanding of anglers’ motivations and how their fishing behaviour alters in response to changes in the social and ecological components of the fishery.

Recreational fishing is defined as fishing of aquatic animals (mainly fish) that do not constitute the individual’s primary source to meet basic protein needs and are not sold or traded. In many areas, recreational fisheries are considered to be unsustainable with over-exploitation of various species a concern.  

In this presentation, Kyle Smith uses angler questionnaire data collected on-site during randomly stratified roving creel surveys over a number of years and historic data obtained from journals and newspaper reports to describe changes within local recreational fisheries and provide an overview of angler motives, desires, levels of compliance and potential drivers of non-compliant behaviour within recreational coastal and estuarine fisheries of the Garden Route.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to Nature’s Valley Trust.

(25-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Kyle Smith

About Kyle Smith

Kyle is currently employed as a SANParks Marine Ecologist for the Frontier Region, based at Scientific Services in Rondevlei. Kyle studied at Rhodes University, completed a BSc degree in Zoology and Ichthyology, Honours in Ichthyology and Fisheries science, and an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science in 2005.

He is working on his doctorate at the moment. Upon completion of his MSc Kyle worked overseas in Scotland on an Atlantic salmon farm before returning to South Africa and joining SANParks, where he has been for 14 years. Involved in a wide range of projects Kyle’s emphasis is on understanding local recreational and subsistence line fisheries from a social-ecological perspective. He has won three Garden Route Kudu awards and one National Kudu Award, an achievement he is very proud of and grateful for.

Through NMU, Rhodes and UNISA he has supervised six BTec students, two Honours students and three MSc students. He is author and co-author on 22 published research papers.

Kyle is married with two young children who are the centre of his universe. Family is important to him. Challenge is good, stress is not so good, life is short and he strives to live with purpose.


Wilma Swanepoel, (Climate and Environment Programme Manager in the International Aid Development Sector, Naturalist, Citizen Scientist and Volunteer)

Strandloper Project

Strandloper Project: Unlocking marine research through citizen science

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 11h15 – 12h15 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

The origins of the Strandloper Project emanated from a need to clean up a reef of snagged fishing tackle at a popular fishing site. Evolving to quantify the rate of fishing tackle accumulation along a fixed transect distance, regular observations of the reef posited additional questions with regards to the impact of recreational fishing tackle on reef health and biodiversity.

Expanding survey sites, it was possible to distinguish the type of snagging and impact on inshore reefs according to socio-economic demographics. Research expanded to monitor physical reef damage caused by fishing activities and lead poisoning as a result of lead sinker accumulation. Strandloper project has also pioneered studies of the occurrence of ghost fishing and entanglements caused by recreational fishing activities.

Plastic pollution has become a global concern and in 2019 the Strandloper Project initiated their coastal research expeditions to survey the distribution and density of plastic pollution and washed-up fishing debris.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to the Strandloper Project

(40 to 50-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

About Wilma Swanepoel

Wilma Swanepoel is currently a full-time programme manager working on a portfolio of Climate and Environment programmes across Africa, whilst completing her final year in obtaining a Diploma in Nature Conservation through UNISA. She plans to continue her studies in 2024 towards a Bachelor of Science.

Wilma is a passionate naturalist and citizen scientist with a keen interest in marine science and the study of intertidal rocky shores. In her free time she can be found diving our diverse coastline and hauling a load of identification books with her on the rocks during low tide.

Her volunteer work has started from a very young age, dating back to the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town in 2000. She was 14 at the time and have volunteered for the oceans ever since. Her love for the ocean started as a little girl going with her dad on fishing trips and being extremely curious about the different creatures she observed living on the rocks and the big body of water stretching as far as the eye can see. She instantly fell in love and wanted to do everything in her power to protect the ocean and the amazing creatures who call it home.
Wilma believes in the power of volunteers, their contribution towards the protection and conservation of our natural environment is extremely important and it provides communities the opportunity to contribute, to learn and to enjoy our natural heritage and believes The Strandloper Project opens the door for people to experience this.


Ms Zandile Ndhlovu, Freediving Instructor, Diversity & Inclusion facilitator

The Black Mermaid Foundation

Why Diverse Representation in the Ocean is most important

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 12h30 – 13h15 | PRICE: R80 | BOOK ONLINE

Diverse representation in the sea is the most important thing for narrative change, for new dreams to emerge, for health and for conservation.

The narrative around Black people and water is incomplete and we have work to do in a way that allows people to feel welcome while exploring the fears in relation to the water, New dreams emerge when we are introduced to new things and new worlds.

More representation in the sea will mean more marine biologists of colour that have experienced and explored the ocean, and more diverse representation recreationally on boats and in water sports. This is needed. Aside from the incredible health benefits of being in the sea, if we are to save our oceans, we need all hands on deck.

Expanding into the work of The Black Mermaid Foundation, learn what you can do.

(30-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Zandile Ndhlovu

About Zandile Ndhlovu

Zandile Ndhlovu is a freediving instructor and founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to create diverse representation in the ocean arena. Her work centres around enabling access to ocean spaces to local ocean communities with the goal of bringing about inclusive participation in the use of ocean spaces recreationally, professionally and in sport, while creating a new generation of ocean guardians.

As a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, she is able to make use of these skills in her advocacy while working to reshape narratives through storytelling. She has contributed to global topics that include ocean conservation, climate change, coastal justice and capacitating the youth to participate in the Blue Ocean Economy. 

Zandile is an agent for change using her voice to create the needed expansion in society, through her work in the foundation, public speaking and on her social media platforms.


Jessica Seath (MSc)

Knysna Basin Project

Ecological Engineering in the Knysna Estuary: modifying artificial shoreline structures to foster new marine habits

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 14h15 – 15h15 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

The development of artificial shorelines, which has taken place for hundreds of years, has led to a loss of marine habitat and species diversity.  Marinas and harbours, which are among some of the most prolific artificial structures in the ocean, have traditionally been built on estuaries which are extremely important ecosystems that join rivers and oceans and act as a nursery for juvenile and threatened species. Whilst conservation efforts typically aim to return compromised ecosystems back to their natural state, this is not always possible in heavily-modified environments (such as harbours). Efforts need to focus on ecological engineering projects that have the potential to increase biodiversity in artificial environments. Ecological engineering can be described as ‘making space for nature in the built environment or in human-dominated/artificial environments’.

Eco-engineering presents a plausible way for these goals to be achieved. It necessitates the development of coastlines for the purposes of erosion control, storm-surge control, property development etc. with the need to provide the essential habitats for various fish and invertebrate species, and presents an opportunity for maintaining the integrity of the shoreline’s natural biodiversity.

This talk provides a detailed snapshot into some of this groundbreaking work, and the research currently being explored in the Knysna Waterfront Harbour over 2020 and 2021.

(40 minute presentation followed by Q&A)

About Jessica Seath

Jessica Seath was born and grew up in Johannesburg, but despite this felt passionate about pursuing ocean science. She studied zoology and environmental science at Rhodes University where she became most interested in trans-disciplinary practice in marine science.

Her masters research brought her to Knysna where she began her thesis on ecological engineering in the Knysna Waterfront Harbour. Choosing to pay particular interest to the fish and invertebrate ecology in these artificial systems, she has since started working for the NPO The Knysna Basin Project. This has expanded her efforts to include additional work on coastal systems research, conservation initiatives, and ecological education in the Knysna and surrounding areas.


Biomimicry: Inspiration and lessons from our oceans

Susan Swain (NDip Nature Conservation, certified Biomimicry educator)

Biowise NPC

Biomimicry: Inspiration and lessons from our oceans

DATE: 03 July 2022 | TIME: 15h30 – 16h30 | PRICE: R100 | BOOK ONLINE

The premise of biomimicry is that plants, animals and microbes have been around for some 3.8 billion years and in that time they have evolved consummate architectural, engineering  and design solutions, while their use of physics and chemistry is a lesson itself in earth-savvy approaches, not to mention the evolved wisdom to be found in the functioning of the systems in which they live.  As such, these species are our planetary elders and the mentors we should turn to for advice on how to design and live wisely and well on earth.

In this presentation, we will explore all these themes using the oceans as our source of inspiration. Guaranteed, you will leave feeling hugely inspired, but also immensely humbled by the ingenuity & generosity of the species with whom we share this planetary home.

The proceeds of this presentation will be donated to Biowise NPC.

(45-minute presentation followed by Q&A)

Susan Swain

About Susan Swain

A qualified nature conservationist, Sue’s work in the conservation field has taken her from the Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre at Cape Point to social ecologist at Addo Elephant National Park, to managing Working for Water projects in and around Port Elizabeth, and to stewardship in the Garden Route National Park.

Sue’s deep passion is biomimicry. She is the founder of BioWise, a social enterprise that promotes the practice of biomimicry. As a certified biomimicry educator and a biomimicry practitioner, Sue has presented & lectured on biomimicry to more than 200 special interest groups, schools, tertiary institutes, businesses and all spheres of government.