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DEA’s research vessel returns from Marion Island

15 May 2015


The Department of Environmental Affairs welcomed its research vessel the SA Agulhas II from her 3rd Marion Island relief Voyage early this morning, 15 May 2015, at the East Pier Quay in Cape Town.

Some of the activities that the M71 team members who participated in the voyage did  included, collecting diet and blood samples from mammals and birds as well as soil and plant samples through the different seasons in the year.

The University of Pretoria’s Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme has entered its 32nd year of uninterrupted research. The Internationally unrivalled Southern Elephant Seal mark recapture experiment formed the backbone of training activities and maintenance during this takeover. All activities relate to a better understanding of top marine mammal predator ecology within the Southern Ocean region.  

This integrates well with insight gained from monitoring the feeding habits of seabirds by DEA Ocean and Coastal Research for the past 22 years. These collectively enable the department to determine the areas of the southern ocean where the mammals and birds are feeding. Without this knowledge, it would be difficult to determine the balance in the marine ecosystem that people depend on for food security, climate impacts and economic fisheries.

The ship-based oceanographic research was a joint effort between scientists from the Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans & Coastal Research, SAEON, CPUT and the University of Cape Town: Oceanography Department. A variety of physical, chemical and biological properties of the ocean surface waters were also analysed.

Acting Chief Director: Oceans Conservation, Mr Henry Valentine delivered the welcome speech to an excited crowd of family members who could not wait to be reunited with their loved ones, who have been away for 13 months. “I am informed that the takeover was a success and many planned activities were achieved. One of the highlights was the installation of the new Upper Air system by SA Weather Service to ensure the continued ability to predict adverse and destructive weather patterns globally,” said Mr Valentine.

For media queries contact:

Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483