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Coastal Conservation and Education Project
Promote the protection of marine and coastal wildlife through community education and research
The project's vision is to create a coastal conservation model which ensures the sustained utilisation of marine and coastal resources through community involvement, management and research.
- Cetacean dorsal fin identification and profiling
- Rock pool surveys and angling surveys
- Dolphin and whale studies
- Resident Byrde whale studies
- Sampling, tagging and monitoring of fish species
- Robberg peninsula hikes and land based studies
- Monitoring and cleaning of beaches and coastal regions
- Lectures in marine biology
- Community development programmes
- Educate local children about marine wildlife
- Involvement in marine and coastal awareness campaigns
The aims of the project are to produce a conservation model in Plettenberg Bay, which can be utilised by the community to ensure sustained utilisation of marine and coastal resources through improved management, research and education. You will assist in boat and land based survey projects where the data collected by you and your team is used to help ensure the long term survival of marine mammals inhabiting the Western Indian Ocean and to promote sustainable eco tourism.
Volunteers at the centre record dolphin sightings and identify dolphins based on their dorsal fin profile
During the whale season the project also studies whales in detail.
Volunteers gathering data on the boats
Volunteers participate in a township project,taking local kids to the beach and educating them about marine conservation
The centre researches the causes for strandings
Whale sightings are common between May and October
The centre is located near scenic Plettenberg Bay
Volunteers out on the boat
Volunteers setting off in the boat to gather data
Typical bedroom in the volunteer house
Work with the Wildlife
By volunteering with a collaborative coastal research and education project, you will directly assist in working towards the programme's vision : to gather information on all marine mammals inhabiting the Western Indian Ocean, and to create, in partnership with the community, a conservation model in Plettenberg Bay to sustain marine and coastal resources through improved management, research and education.
This is also a great opportunity to contribute to marine mammal research as the centre works alongside the goals and aims of the World Conservation Union and Species Survival Commission. Each study adheres to a specific criteria and dedicated use of results and through the integration of research results, the DWRC has, and is, generating long-term status assessments of Africa's marine mammal (both coastal and pelagic) assets used to aid and encourage the authorities of African states to conserve and manage their marine mammal and coastal resources. During your volunteering placements, your work may include the following (weather and season dependant):
- Resident bottlenose and humpback dolphin research using dorsal fin identification using photo-identification techniques. Mapping individuals to assess population size, movement patterns, individual and group associations, home range and habitat preference.
- Seasonal Southern Right and Humpback whale studies during their annual visit from May to January. Research studies familial relationships, their migratory paths and group dynamics.
- Resident Byrde whale population size and dynamics including genetic relatedness.
- Cape Fur Seals on the Robberg peninsula were hunted for their fur and the population eradicated by 1908. Reappearance occurred in the 1990’s with numbers now exceeding 3000 in the breeding season. This research project scientifically investigates local fishermen’s claim of seal-induced reduction of their target fish species through studies of seal feeding behaviour and diet by lab analysis of sea scats. The centre works closely with Cape Nature Conservation and local fishermen.
- Land based surveys involve hikes on the Robberg peninsula and rock pool studies.
- River excursions for water analysis
- Lectures on evolution, cetacean physiology and anatomy, biodiversity, moon phases, tides, wind and the ocean.
- Planting of indigenous trees and removal of alien species to rehabilitate land and minimise our carbon footprint
- Maintenance of small aquariums at the centre, including collection of fish food and cleaning of aquariums.
Through community initiatives the centre aims to pass their knowledge of conservation on via:
- Community projects to educate local children about marine wildlife and assist with beach clean ups. Community work includes education programmes and craft sessions with preschool children teaching the basics of conservation.
- Organisation of provincial and national marine and coastal awareness campaigns.
Working times are flexible and depend on current activities and volunteer interest, but are usually from 08:00hrs to 17:00hrs, Monday to Friday.
More time to make a difference!
June to November is whale watching season in South Africa and to give you the chance to make an even bigger impact if you volunteer during this crucial time, we are offering 4 weeks at the cost of 3. That's a whole extra week to do good work! Check out the details of this offer and other opportunities to maximise the impact of volunteering in our "Twice the Benefit" section.
Hear from other volunteers who've visited Coastal Conservation and Education Project
Studying the behaviour and identifying individuals by their dorsal fin notches and scars, we recorded bottlenose and humpback dolphins and a rare sighting of the common dolphin. This adventure has changed my life in so many ways; I am now living in South Africa at the centre and everyday I can pass on the most exciting experiences that I had to other volunteers
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