Edge of Africa has launched an exciting marine conservation volunteer project! The part of the South African coastline that we are lucky enough to call home is incredibly unique and Edge of Africa volunteers will have the opportunity to work in it, gaining valuable marine conservation experience whilst increasing their knowledge and skills.
Knysna has been designated a ‘hope spot’ – an area critical to the health of the world’s oceans, hugely important for the maintenance of marine biodiversity and habitats*. Edge of Africa’s new project will give volunteers a true insight in to every aspect of South African marine conservation.
Out past the Knysna heads is where the humpback and southern right whales play, alongside the indopacific bottlenose and humpback dolphins. Our volunteers will work Knysna’s premier whale watching organisation ‘Ocean Odyssey’ – one of only 6 organisations in South Africa to have a close encounter permit.
Out on the whale watching boats our volunteers will play a key role in helping the skipper take data on observations and encounters of all marine species. When not on boats our volunteers will be working with the spotters, tasked with scanning the ocean from the highest viewpoint in Knysna to spot whales and dolphins.
This work with Ocean Odyssey allows volunteers to learn a huge amount about marine mammals, their activities, their movements and their characteristics.
Our volunteers will also have the incredible opportunity to be involved with long-term research along the garden route coastline. Working with key researchers from South African universities our volunteers will be part of a land based observation network, recording sightings to contribute to studies on the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) on dolphin populations. Alongside this shore based work, our volunteers will get out on the water with researcher Alejandra Vargas-Fonseca to assist her in collecting key data on dolphin activities all along this incredible coastline.
This project is unique for a number of reasons, a key one being the opportunity to work with the Knysna seahorse, an incredibly endangered species endemic to the Knysna lagoon. Working with the Knysna Basin Project, an organisation committed to continuing research in the Knysna lagoon our volunteers will receive training and learn about the ecology of the lagoon and lead estuarine walks with local school groups. Offering not only the chance to gain some estuarine ecology experience but extend this in to crucial community outreach.
This marine conservation project will provide an educational and exciting experience for our volunteers. With such a high diversity of tasks and activities volunteers will have the opportunity to gain first hand experience and learn about all aspects of marine conservation in South Africa.