Posted on the 10th April 2018

Dr Taryn Morris, the Coastal Seabird Conservation Manager at BirdLife South Africa was the guest speaker at BirdLife South Africa’s monthly meeting on 9 April. She initially reviewed the Seabird Conservation Programme of BLSA that consists of the Albatross Task Force and the Common Oceans and Coastal Seabird Divisions. More than a decade ago some 300,000 seabird mortalities were recorded annually due to unsustainable fishing practices. Over the years a variety of mitigation measures were developed by the Seabird Conservation Programme resulting in a 95% reduction in albatross mortalities and 90% in other seabirds. 

Taryn then went on to describe the work of the Coastal Seabird Division. She focuses on sustaining seabirds and Christina Hagen on creating alternative colonies for seabirds, particularly African Penguins. She used practical graphics to illustrate how the numbers of penguins, Cape Gannets and Cape Cormorants had decreased over the years and how this could be related to the availability of fish stocks. Her work on sustaining seabirds is sponsored by the Charl van der Merwe Trust and has as one of its aims improving foraging around breeding islands. A lot of emphasis is also placed on boardroom negotiations in an attempt to reduce overfishing along the Cape West Coast. She also works on developing ecosystem indicator concerns for the three mentioned species. 

Christina’s work is sponsored by Pamela and Neville Isdell and is attempting to identify alternative land-based breeding colonies for penguins. Sites currently being investigated are at the De Hoop Nature Reserve and at Plettenberg Bay. Various strategies to develop such colonies are being researched and these include the use of decoys, the creation of suitable habitats and the possible translocation of chicks. This talk again illustrates the dynamic and commendable conservation research being undertaken by so many staff members of BirdLife South Africa. 

BirdLife Overberg’s conservation campaign on our coastline and estuaries is in direct support of these conservation efforts and the hope is expressed that further collaboration between us and the Coastal Seabird Division will grow significantly in future. Antonio Da Silva-Swart of the Coastal Cleanup Conservation Trust was the worthy recipient of BirdLife Overberg’s OYSTERCATCHER HERO AWARD for April at last night’s monthly meeting. Remember to participate in our monthly coastal cleanup this Saturday.














(Images by BirdLife Overberg members).



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