The ORCA Team was Busy Last Month with Bird Ringing, Whale Watching and Fynbos Workshops!

Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Wednesday, 20th April 2016

Volunteers during the bird surveyLooking back on March it seems the ORCA team has been incredibly busy! After 2 months of running the elasmobranch egg case project a total of 605 egg cases from 6 different species have been collected. The team is all very interested to see what is going to happen over winter. Will the number of egg cases drop or stay the same or will different species begin emerging?

Volunteers and interns spent some time on the Ocean Blue Adventures whale watching boats, which besides being a lot of fun, is a useful method for collecting data on the dolphins and whales that frequent our beautiful bay. The team takes fin profile photos of as many individuals as possible of all species sighted during the trip and these are added to the collection of photos that ORCA currently has. The aim is to create a catalogue for each species of dolphin and whale which can be used to track individuals through time and space. While it may not seem like it, having a good time and taking lots of photos is a valuable data collection method, as long as the photos do not just sit on a dusty hard drive but are in fact used by either by getting uploaded to one of many citizen science project’s online databases, or added to a growing catalogue. Preferably both!

We have finally started our own bird ringing program. This month we conducted our pilot bird ringing session at Brackenburn Private Nature Reserve with Brackenburn CREW which although wasn’t a busy morning with regards to catching birds, it was a great morning sitting in the sun and chatting with some really amazing and interesting people! Another site where we conducted bird ringing was at the boardwalk in Plettenberg Bay. The first session was miserably windy which explained our low catch rate, but we were inundated with birds during the second session which was great!

Attending a fynbos workshop

Some of the volunteers took part in a R statistics course that was organized by Gwen Penry and run by Ian Durbach and Theoni Photopoulou from the University of Cape Town Statistical Sciences Department – many thanks to you all! The course was very informative and everyone who participated gained valuable knowledge, or a very thorough refresher.

The ORCA team attended a fynbos workshop facilitated by Nature’s Valley Trust. Fynbos is an extremely vast floral kingdom, one of only six in fact, and is endemic to the Cape region. With so much to share, and only a small amount of time to share it in the two lectures were jam-packed with interesting information about the local fynbos. Volunteers also had a chance to get hands on using a dichotomous identification key and fynbos field guide to identify a few local species before taking a short but delightful walk through the fynbos learning a little about a variety of species! It was a great opportunity for the team to learn a little more about the place they call home for the duration of their stay.

Great times have been had, and we have some great times planned ahead! If you want to get involved with the work carried out by our Ocean Research and Conservation Programme, visit the project page to find out more!

Author: WorkingAbroad Projects

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