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Research

Work integrated Learnership Programme

Research

               

The Foundation has an active marine research department and supports various Higher Education Institutions by offering internships and work integrated learning opportuninities.

One such programme hosts 3rd year Marine Science Diploma students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Every year we supervise 2 – 4 students with their research projects while they gain valuable work experience in our various specialisation fields.

We also supervise interns on the WWF facilitated work experience programme every two years. We believe that we contribute to informing and inspiring young scientists to grow their skills sets to be able to increase their positive impact in the marine science field in the future.

Current Students

Our current students are Claudine van Zyl and Keagan Philander. 

Projects

2021

One research project has been registered for Keagan Philander:

1. The abundance of microplastics in Mytilus galloprovincialis within the Cape Town harbour.

This introduced Mediterranean mussel from Europe now dominates the west and south coasts of southern Africa. As a sedentary filter feeding animal it serves as an indicator of the presence and abundance of microplastics (size less than 5cm). The Table Bay Harbour is impacted by various sources of plastics which may include activity in the V&A Waterfront, stormwater runoff from the City of Cape Town as well as plastics debris from areas around Cape Town that blows or washes in by wind, currents and tides into Table Bay harbour. A sample of mussels were collected from three sites in the waters surrounding the Two Oceans Aquarium; one site at the Harbour wall and two sites adjacent to the seawater intake pumps of the Aquarium. At the same time 5 liters of seawater samples were also collected from these sites. This study aims to determine the abundance and type of microplastics found in both the mussel and seawater as well an determine the chemical composition of the microplastics found.

Supervisors: Dr C. Sparks (CPUT), Dr N. Viljoen and Dr C. Puckree-Padua (CPUT)

2020

The 2020 WIL programme kicked off in September 2020 and final completion is set for mid-January 2021.

One  research project has been registered for Claudine van Zyl:

1. The characterization of plastics in stranded post-hatchling loggerhead turtles along the South African coastline from 2015 to 2020.

Annually the Turtle Rescue, Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre (TRRR) of the Foundation receives several stranded loggerhead hatchlings; most of them alive, while others succumb to their injuries. A postmortem is done on deceased sea turtles and gastrointestinal tracts (gut) content is recorded, which for some includes various plastic items. Live hatchlings with plastic will during the rehabilitation period egests plastic items and it is then collected and documented for further analysis. Some 54 sea turtles recorded plastic items from there gut during the years 2015 to 2020. This study aims to determine the presence and abundance of plastics; based on colour and type (fragment, film, line, or pellet) found in post-hatchling loggerhead turtles along the South African coastline from 2015 to 2020.

2019

The following projects were completed and submitted in 2019:

Assessment of various aquatic medical treatments used at the Two Oceans Aquarium between 2016 and 2019. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Jesse Grosch. Supervisors: Maryke Musson, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

The presence and prevalence of microplastics in the waters of Table Bay Harbour in Cape Town. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Johnathan Lassen. Supervisors: Inge Adams, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

The growth rate of Aurelia aurita using three different diets at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Bradley Swanepoel. Supervisors: Krish Lewis, Maryke Musson, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

Production and survival of mysids, Mysidopsis sp., at different temperature parameters. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Bradley Swanepoel. Supervisors: Krish Lewis, Maryke Musson, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

The Growth and survival of Artemia at three different salinities at the Two Oceans Aquarium. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Jesse Grosch. Supervisors: Inge Adams, Maryke Musson, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

Culturing and husbandry of calanoid copepods using two different water flow systems. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Jessica Esteves. Supervisors: Krish Lewis, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

The seasonal fluctuations of dissolved oxygen in the Table Bay harbour for the years 2016 to 2019. CPUT, TOA and TOAEF. Johnathan Lassen. Supervisors: Maryke Musson, Dr. Conrad Sparks and Dr. Nathalie Viljoen.

 

Spotlight on

Dr Nathalie Viljoen – Head of Research

Nathalie leads our scientific research activities and graduate student supervision. She has participated in research projects that include both terrestrial and aquatic animals and holds a PhD in Fish population dynamics. She is passionate about the ocean and enjoys sharing her experiences with students at different stages of their careers. The marine environment is affected by a number of anthropogenic activities that in turn affects the biological responses of all its inhabitants and by doing research we increase our understanding and develop new applications that can not only grow biodiversity but also assist us to manage our marine resources.

University Links

University of
Fort Hare

University of
Stellenbosch

Rhodes
University

Nelson Mandela
University

University of the Western Cape

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

North-West
University

Cape University of
Cape Town