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M. Sc. Zoology – University of Cape Town, SA
B.Sc Marine Biology - Bangor University, UK

Alison is believed to have been a great white shark in a previous life. Alison’s love of the ocean first took her to the Mediterranean and then to the Red Sea where she became a dive instructor and helped map and promote conservation of coral reefs.

It was always only a matter of time before she began her life as a great white shark researcher, protector, and educator. Along with Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Alison has also paired up with the South African Shark Conservancy to help track the movements of Zambezi sharks, and is a qualified SAMSA skipper.

Alison and Oliver's latest work on wound-healing rates of great white sharks was featured at the 2010 International White Shark symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her current M.Sc thesis is on the movements of white sharks in relation to environmental parameters in Gansbaai and she is advised by Dr. Malcolm Smale of Bayworld and Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town.

Click here to read Alison's Project Information

Hennie Otto - Skipper/Gen. Manager of Marine Dynamics

B.Sc. Candidate – University of South Africa

Research interests: In 1990, Hennie first came into the world of great white sharks when he fished commercially around Dyer Island and Cape Agulhas. He then became a qualified skipper in 1992 and joined Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust in 2008. His in-depth knowledge of where reefs lie and where the sharks have been seen when hunting yellowtail provides a key to some wonderful shark trips. He also gained valuable experience as research coordinator for Irvin & Johnson’s abalone culture facility at Danger Point and was subsequently introduced to the field of parasitology. He has attended many International Marine Science and Parasitology Symposia over the years and presented at Texas A&M University as part of a marine development, aquarium and educational programme. He is currently looking into parasites associated with Elasmobranchs.

Click here to read Hennie's Project Information

Michelle Wcisel - MARINE BIOLOGIST

M. Sc. Zoology - University of Cape Town, SA
B.Sc.(with honors) Zoology – Michigan State University, USA

Research interests: Michelle was born and raised in Davison, MI - a suburb of Flint, MI. As the second in her family to earn a degree, Michelle understood that one must grab opportunity by the horns. This mantra has lead her to various education, research, and conservation projects from the Antarctic to the jungles of Costa Rica and now her home of Gansbaai, South Africa.

The mysteries and unknowns about the ocean specifically always fascinated Michelle as she considers it another planet within Earth. Here exists intelligent 'extraterrestrial' beings, thriving systems where there is no oxygen and no sunlight, and yet so many of us gaze at the stars in wonder when we should be looking into our oceans!

Predator and prey systems have always peeked her interest, which is why she specialized in animal behaviour during her undergraduate Zoology degree. Her M.Sc. focuses on the behavioural ecology between great white sharks, Cape fur seals, and African penguins and she is supervised by Prof Justin O'Riain and Prof Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town.

Click here to read Michelle's Project Information


M. Sc. Zoology – University of Pretoria, SA
B.Sc.(honors) Oceanography – University of Southampton, UK

Research interests: Oliver's first experience with great white sharks was similar to many people's only experience – watching the film Jaws. Since that day, Oliver has been dedicated to learning all the information that existed about sharks and to protect them.

This passion fueled him throughout his life, leading to an honor's dissertation conducted here in 2007 concerning behavioural observations of great white sharks from a cage diving vessel. Oliver had also served as an intern and as an intern manager/skipper for great white shark research conducted in Mossel Bay before returning to Gansbaai.

Oliver has been manually tracking the movements of great white sharks extensively since 2008 and is a qualified SAMSA skipper. His current M.Sc. thesis is a comparison between movement and hunting patterns of great white sharks from Mossel Bay and Gansbaai. He is advised by Prof Marthan Bester of the University of Pretoria and Ryan Johnson of Oceans Research.

Click here to read Oli's Project Information


PhD - University of Cape Town Thesis: The regional significance of Dyer Island to the conservation of seabirds

Lauren completed her Masters in Conservation Biology at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute at UCT. She obtained her BSc and BSc(Hons) at the University of Natal, Durban.

Lauren has been employed by CapeNature since January 2001, based in Hermanus, and her primary focus was initially invasive alien clearing programmes. She subsequently became involved in ecological monitoring, Dyer Island being one of her main areas of responsibility. The outbreaks of Avian Cholera in 2003/04 and 2004/05 led to Lauren registering for a PhD with the ADU to investigate these outbreaks further. Her study has now expanded to consider the regional significance of Dyer Island to southern African breeding seabirds. She is part of a team of scientists and conservation managers, led by MCM (Marine and Coastal Management), who are looking at the impact of temporary fishing closures around African Penguin breeding colonies, and assessing the impact these closures have on penguin breeding success.

Isabelle Dupre - ETHOLOGIST

PhD candidate - University of Paris V
M.Sc from the University of Paris V

Isabelle met her first dolphins when she was 6 and it changed her whole life forever. She started to collect all information and pictures about those animals and it became a long life-time passion.

Isabelle specialised eight years ago in ethology, which is the study of the behaviour and the social structure of an animal specie and the interactions between the animals and their environment. She has been travelling on all the world’s oceans to study marine mammals, making articles and taking pictures of them. She has also been a guide on whale watching boats like in Norway for two seasons working with the sperm whales.

She is also a keen diver and free diver. From the Bahamas to New Zealand, she likes more than anything else to glide in the water and interact with the dolphins in their own environment.

She started her PhD project in 2004, working on both the data collected by DICT and also her own data. She is working on the social behaviour and distribution of the humpback dolphins (Souza plumbea) in the area of Jouberstdam and Dyer Island. So far, she has built up a catalogue of 35 dolphins all identified by a name. The more we know on these dolphins, the better we will be able to protect them.

Alison Towner - Marine Biologist

Hennie Otto - Manager of Marine Dynamics

Michelle Wcisel - Marine Biologist

Oliver Jewell - Marine Biologist

Lauren Waller - Conservation Biologist

Isabelle Dupré - Ethologist