ABOUT OUR RESEARCH
Research at SASC falls under several key themes. Together these themes are designed to provide baseline data on sharks and their habitats, track changes over time, and contribute to management and conservation of vulnerable species. In addition to research, we focus on changing public perceptions about sharks through various education projects. Our goal is to promote better understanding of the role of sharks in marine ecosystems for conservation and stewardship purposes.
BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY
Using non-invasive survey techniques like Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and Aerial Visual Surveys (AVS), we are assessing the biodiversity and ecology of the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. This research focuses on three distinct management zones including marine protected areas and exploited areas and is focused on assessing the baseline characteristics of this global biodiversity hotspot. Ultimately, we will track ecological changes as a function of changing climate and human use patterns.
BLUE ECONOMY PROJECT
Oceans are key climate regulators, provide food for millions of people and are engines for economic growth. The Blue Economy is an emerging concept that seeks to balance economic growth, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and improved livelihoods of coastal communities. However, balancing these varied needs is incredibly complex and exceedingly difficult in the developing world. This project focuses on developing an ecosystem and ocean accounting system similar to the concept of GDP National Accounting Systems – for improved spatial management of sustainable ocean economies in the Overberg Region.
SHARK PARASITOLOGY AND ECOTOXICOLOGY
In collaboration with Northwest University and led by Dr. Bjoern Schaeffner and Dr. Ruan Gerber, we are assessing the biodiversity of poorly known shark parasites and the impacts of pollution on shark health. Having evolved over 440 million years, sharks are host to a unique array of endo and ectoparasites which have co-evolved and adapted to keep their hosts healthy. Despite this long co-evolutionary process, many of these parasites are now experiencing localized extinctions due to the continued over exploitation of sharks. This project provides basic biodiversity assessments of these important fauna, describes the taxonomy of species and quantifies how parasites influence the absorption of toxins into vital organs of sharks.
SHARKS AND MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
South Africa possesses one of the most diverse assemblages of sharks in the world. However, as a developing country, many species are threatened by poor management, illegal harvesting and habitat degradation. This project aims to identify sharks, skates and stingrays which can be used as umbrella species when identifying and declaring new marine protected areas (MPAs) and/or special management zones. Our research is currently focused in the Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area.
We use a suite of techniques to conduct our research.
Baited Remote Underwater Video
Perception & Knowledge Surveys
Diving & Snorkeling Surveys
Taxonomy & Morphometrics
RELEVANT FIELD ACTIVITIES
Find out how we conduct our research on sharks and their ecosystems.