SEAmesterII: first South African floating University

This is SEAmester!! First South African floating University!
I just got back on land after two weeks well spent at sea together with some of the top-experts in the country, teaching Ocean Science to 48 students from South African Universities and Institutions. Find out more about this unique initiative!

SEAmester 2017 invited 48 marine science students from 14 different institutes across South Africa to board the SA Agulhas II for 12 days at sea. The students embarked on a life changing adventure where they leant from lecturers from a broad range of marine disciplines, made lasting friendships, and were exposed to life at sea.

A year of conferences and cruises

At the end of a working year it is common to evaluate achievements and assess things that could have been done better over the time past. Here is my small summary of a year full of travel, collaborations, conferences and research.

My year started with my second trip down to the Prince Edward Islands. This archipelago, composed of Marion and Prince Edward Islands, offered me again the possibility to conduct some research on benthic deep sea communities. The expedition was composed of a wide range of scientists with all sort of expertise, from zooplankton to oceanography and microbiology. This team worked together for approximately 40 days at sea in order to collect as many samples as possible.

My second highlight of this year was definitely my participation in the 11th Temperate Reef Symposium that was held in Pisa in June, in my homeland. During this conference I had the chance to present some work that I am doing in collaboration with Universities in Oman and Brazil. These kind of events are always a nice opportunity to meet old friends and new people, to chat with them about new research and possible future innovative projects.



Another good scientific event that I attended was the Benguela Symposium, held in Cape Town in October. This conference was a very well organised occasion to get to know more about the Benguela ecosystem, covering diverse topics including geology, fisheries, conservation and biology.


Next year?! A couple of cruises are already planned but more experiences are yet to come!

Successful and productive trip to the Prince Edward Islands! 40 days at sea

As mentioned in the previous post, I had the chance to take part in the annual relief voyage to the Prince Edward Islands (PEIs) during the last couple of months. This trip brings the new over-wintering team that will spend a year on Marion Island and returns the outgoing team to South Africa. At the same time, scientists of both terrestrial and marine disciplines had the opportunity over the takeover period to conduct different kinds of research.

We were 17 people as ship based scientist with very distinct projects. I was leading the benthic marine survey looking at variation in biodiversity and trophic dynamics around the islands. I managed to collect samples from different areas, encountering some very unfamiliar species! Another student was looking at forams, which are small animals that can be used as a proxy for paleontological studies,  while other projects investigated fluctuation in water temperature and velocity , microbial activity and biodiversity around the islands, and more generally,  in the Southern Ocean. We also helped in collecting data for the monitoring line of the Department of Environment Affair and for the Crossroads line, which consists of collecting data via a CTD transect between the PEIs and South Africa. We were coming from different universities and institutions, including the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria, Department of Environmental Affairs and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, but all worked together as team for 40 days!

We had the chance to spend two days on Marion Island itself, where we were able to get right up close to some very interesting animals such as orcas,  fur seals, elephant seals, penguins and albatrosses... an amazing unforgettable experience!

South African research in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica has really developed in the last few decades and more and more research is conducted in this area. A place difficult to access but that at the same time offers so much to discover and explore!


More to discover on the next trip!!!

Seminar at the South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research

The South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research (SANCOR) is a non-statutory body that generates and communicates knowledge and advice in order to promote the wise and informed use and management of marine and coastal resources and environments.

SANCOR is an active organization that provides several services for the Southern Africa scientific community, including opportunities to meet, and interact with experts in the marine and coastal science community; information on recent research developments in the region; stimulating inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration and contributing pro-actively to policy development. At the same time, it is a useful tool to find jobs, postgraduate opportunities, forthcoming conferences or information about funding.

I had the opportunity in the month of September to present my work in one of the SANCOR seminars, which was held at the University of Cape Town. Professionally, this was a great opportunity as I could talk about my work in front a knowledgeable group of expert Biologists and Oceanographers from South Africa. With their in-depth knowledge of the local environment, they provided some excellent comments and discussion around my research.

I will definitely encourage other researchers to join SANCOR and to take the opportunity to present in one of these seminars.

You can join SANCOR free!

More information about SANCOR and how to join it is available on this website