Friday 17 October 2014

October - Walvis Bay

by Tess Gridley

To many on the outside it may look like we have been keeping a low profile in Walvis Bay - have we been on holiday? Do we still care, where are Glen and Sara??? Others (those who don't hang out at the waterfront) probably haven't noticed we've been gone!

Well to provide a bit of an update, Simon and I (and Lucas, Glen and Alan) moved down to South Africa in July to start setting up a research station there - Sea Search. A large reason for the move was so that we can develop and maintain closer relationships with the key universities  (UCT and Pretoria) and set up an NPO which can help to finance research in both South Africa and Namibia. We've made important steps towards these aims, bought a big house to run research from and are expanding our research team and planning for a very productive 2015 both in  Namibia and for research in False Bay and along the Garden Route.

So although you may not have seen our faces around on the water too much recently,  We've been working 24/7 behind our computers writing grants, raising funds and awareness of issues affecting dolphins in Walvis Bay so that the coming years we can monitor Namibian populations and collect research data on a range of species. We've also published a few papers on our finding on bottlenose dolphin signature whistles and Namibian humpback whales, which will be available on the website.

We've also welcomed Dr Daniela Maldini to the Namibian Dolphin project and together with her husband Jon, they will be spending more time in Namibia over the coming months - so keep an eye out for them. .

- Highlights so far from our funding drive include:
Support from De Beers  to run Marine Education Day in 2015 in Walvis Bay
Support from the Walvis Bay Municipality for education materials for the Waterfront Environmental office
Three years of research funding from Nedbank Go Green to support dolphin monitoring in Walvis Bay (well, enough to keep the boat on the water for about 50 days a year, but there are a lot of other costs for research and we are still a long way off our target. Importantly - we still trying to get funds for local students and interns - but feeling positive about the future and what we have achieved so far....

We've also been attending the 3rd Large Marine Ecosystem and the 6th annual Benguela Current Commission meetings in Swakopmund and talking with UNam lecturers about student projects for next year and giving some courses there for the current undergrads.

No visit would be complete without getting a little stinky, and within 48 hours of being in Walvis we were conducting a necropsy on a dead Heaviside's dolphin calf and a few days later searching for a 4m stranded something on the way to Swakopmund..(which turned out to be a pygmy sperm whale which was reported drifting at sea in August.

So as you can see we've been busy and very much putting Walvis Bay at the top priority for our future research plans. We look forward to keeping you updated on your results and please remember to get in touch if you come across stranded animals!!