Tag Archives: Slashfin

Exclusive Shark Cage-Diving Treat for our Volunteers

Every now and again, when the time allows, we are able to fit in a fully exclusive cage-diving trip for our hard-working volunteers.  It is usually very early in the morning, which adds to all the excitement.  Wetsuits, booties and towels were all prepared the night before and the passenger list for the boat was compiled in readiness for the next day.  Early the next morning a group of yawning, sleepy faces all piled into the minibus and headed down to the harbour for a beautiful sunrise and a fun time out on the water!

Our volunteers have coordinators with them from early morning until night-time, so we usually make sure that they all go aboard together.  It is an amazing experience for everyone!  Instead of their usual task of educating and taking care of ecotourism clients, the crew and volunteers get to just relaaaax and fully enjoy the cage-diving experience.  

There is a lot of fun, laughter and joking around, and a really good vibe on board Slashfin, the Marine Dynamics’ vessel.  Our volunteers all get rewarded with some well-deserved time off doing exactly what they are deeply passionate about!

Gray helping one of her teammates out with a nice dry towel


The volunteers said that they found the whole experience really good for bonding with their teammates, coordinators and the boat crew.

Staff and volunteers working together as a team

Volunteers helping to retrieve and stow the anchor away

This time around they were really lucky and got some fantastic great white shark sightings and were able to spend a long time in the cage.  They said that they enjoyed the fact that they knew everyone diving in the cage alongside them, so they felt comfortable and could chat and joke with one another at will.

Ettiene Roets, one of our volunteer coordinators, said that exclusive volunteer dives are “a nice bonding experience for both coordinators and volunteers alike…the exclusives are uniquely fun trips, almost like playing at work”.

Meredith Thornton: IMV Manager

Helping to conserve the African Penguin

On Wednesday, 12th February 2014, instead of volunteering on Marine Dynamics’ shark cage diving boat, Slashfin, seven of our International Marine Volunteers had the privilege to visit one of the largest remaining African Penguin colonies in the world, Stony Point in Betty’s Bay.

International Marine Volunteers arive at Stony Point, Betty's Bay for a day of working for the conservation of the African Penguin.

International Marine Volunteers arive at Stony Point, Betty’s Bay for a day of working for the conservation of the African Penguin.

These visits are a fortnightly institution for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and the International Marine Volunteers. We help with the maintenance of this colony, assisting with alien vegetation clearing, placing of artificial homes for the penguin families and vegetative habitat mimicry.

Stony Point Seabird Monitor, Yvonne, addresses the Volunteers about their duties for the day.

Stony Point Seabird Monitor, Yvonne, addresses the Volunteers about their duties for the day.

Yvonne, Seabird Monitor at Stony Point, gave the volunteersa a private tour of the boardwalk, which meanders over the Penguin walkways to and from the ocean. This walkway provides excellent viewing of the African Penguins, and other seabirds nests, without disturbing or impacting on the birds in any specific way. After the innitial tour, Yvonne explained to the Volunteers what their duties for the day entials.

A quick history on the African Penguin, in their natural habitat they were once quite abundant and were able to burrow down into guano, creating adequate nests to shelter them from environmental factors. Then the guano was harvested off of the islands and sold commercially as fertilizer, and a component of gunpowder. As a direct result the penguins were unable to form nests and were forced to lay their eggs in open scrapings on hospitable terrain. The eggs that survived the forty-day incubation period yielded surviving chicks, but without the safety of a nest they simply became an easy meal for seals, and predatory birds.

Within the past thirty years, the population numbers have declined by ninety percent. The species is predicted to become extinct within the next ten to fifteen years if drastic action is not taken.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, that has vowed to save the African Penguin, has created a program that introduces artificial homes in which the penguins can nest and more successfully raise their chicks.

An African Penguin inspects one of the artificial nests installed through the Faces of Need project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

An African Penguin inspects one of the artificial nests installed through the Faces of Need project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

Two years prior to our visit, a residential area was built across the street from the bay.

The penguins, which once had free reign of the entire area, were evicted from the neighborhood further limiting their available nesting grounds.

The penguins would still venture into the neighborhoods and became cat and dog food and even some were even killed by homeowners who considered them pests.

The International Marine Volunteers helping with the fence at Stony Point.

The International Marine Volunteers helping with the fence at Stony Point.

The main job during the volunteers visit was to finish building a fence in order to keep the penguins in the colony and keep the terrestrial predators, such as house cats, from stealing the newborn chicks from the nests.

It was hard work but very rewarding, knowing that the fence would help the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Stoney Point save African Penguin lives, and promote the conservation of this species!