No under 13s


Fri Jul 1, 10:00 - Sun Jul 3, 19:30

Beacon Island, Lagoon Room


Plett Marine Science Symposium takes place from Fri 1 July – Sun 3 July 2022.

Plett Tourism is pleased to announce the first Plett Ocean Festival anchored by the Plett Marine Science Symposium at the Beacon Island Resort in Plettenberg Bay.

During the season when whales, white sharks and other marine life are teeming in the bay, we present a focus on the ocean which is about observation, conservation and preservation of Plett’s most valuable tourism resource, right here in our own world-proclaimed Hope Spot.

The Plett Marine Science Symposium takes place over three days with many of Plett’s top marine scientists presenting their areas of research, and some from further afield, aimed at oceanographers, biologists and audiences invested and interested in marine conservation.

Join us for early evening networking and a taste of Plett wines in The Gazebo every evening and 10 - 15 minutes talk on the Robberg Coastal Corridor and the history of the whaling station.

These are free events but you must buy a ticket.

Tickets are available as follows:

1.    Individual event tickets

2.    A One-day Pass which includes all events on a particular day

3.    A Three-Day Pass which includes all events on all three days.




About Danielle ConryMarine biologist Danielle Conry has been involved in marine mammal research as a volunteer, student and biologist over the last 15 years. Her passion for cetaceans began at a young age and in high school she began volunteering with the Mammal Research Institute’s Whale Unit with a project on the feeding ecology of southern right whales along the West Coast.With an intense passion for killer whales, Danielle is now part of the 78th overwintering expedition to Marion Island as a killer whaler/sealer for the Marion Island Marine Mammal Programme. To spend a year in this wild, subantarctic paradise collecting data on not only killer whales, but also southern elephant seals, subantarctic fur seals and Antarctic fur seals is a dream come true for her.Shortly before the expedition to Marion Island she became involved with research aimed at a better understanding of the killer whales off South Africa’s coastline, and she was based in Plettenberg Bay where she worked within the ORCA Foundation.After completing a master’s degree at NMU assessing the abundance and habitat use of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins along the garden route, she felt it was important to continue collecting data on this endangered species and, with the help of Dr. Gwen Penry, started up the Plett humpback dolphin project, and was also involved in the local Plettenberg Bay Stranding Network.

About Dr. Chantel Elston :Dr Chantel Elston is a passionate marine scientist and science communicator. She is mildly obsessed with stingrays and her PhD work focussed on identifying an important stingray nursery in Seychelles which was declared as a Marine Protected Area.Now, her postdoctoral research at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity has brought her to the beautiful Garden Route, where she is studying the stingrays of Plett’s very own Keurbooms estuary.She also runs an exciting citizen science project called ELMO Africa which encourages everybody to submit their own sightings of sharks, rays and mermaids purses to aid in their conservation.

Chantel Elston

About Gareth Greenwood : I’m a man with an honours degree in Zoology, who is passionate about developing and inspiring young people to reach their full potential. I grew up in Plettenberg Bay, where I lived according to the ocean tides and wind direction. On days when the wind blew offshore, I was surfing. When the wind blew onshore, I was fishing. The ocean with all its lessons was my classroom. 

Gareth Greenwood

About Dr Anton Wolfaardt: Anton has worked for more than 25 years in the field of seabird and marine conservation, starting on Marion Island in 1994, as a seabird field researcher. He moved on to Dassen Island for five years as a contract researcher and later as the conservation manager of the island. Back in South Africa, Anton took up the post of Regional Ecologist for CapeNature.In 2008, Anton headed to the Falkland Islands to take up the newly created position of ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatross and Petrels) Co-ordinator for the United Kingdom (UK) South Atlantic Overseas Territories, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha (including Gough Island) and the UK’s interest in Antarctica.He returned to South Africa in 2013 and continued to serve as the Co-convenor of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group as an environmental consultant focussing on seabird and marine issues, as well as a lecturer and guide on expedition ships visiting the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. In February 2021 Anton took up the position of Project Manager to eradicate introduced house mice from Marion Island.

About Kei HeynsSenior Conservation Ranger of the Robberg Coastal Corridor Protected EnvironmentIt was serendipity that in 2018 Chris van Christierson, one of the founder members of the RCCPE read an article about Kei Heyns and his achievements as Senior Conservation Ranger at the Gourits-East Coastal Corridor, the Fransmanshoek Conservancy. Kei had just won The Cape Fox Best Managed Conservancy Award, a tremendous achievement; he was subsequently elected to the Executive Council of Conservation at Work, an umbrella organization for all the conservancies in the Western Cape.

Kei Heyns

About Lloyd Edwards:Lloyd was born in Port Elizabeth and has spent many years next to, on and in Algoa Bay! After 17 years of service in the Special Branch of the South African Police, he decided to do a 180-degree career change. It was his love for the ocean that led him to start the Baywatch Marine Conservation Project in 1992. It is the oldest self-funded marine conservation project in Africa. Five years later he started Raggy Charters which does marine cruises in order to raise funds for marine conservation.The main focus of the Baywatch project is to educate the community and especially the youth about the marine environment and the need for its protection and conservation. Marine research, anti-pollution projects and offsetting carbon footprint, the rehabilitation of wetlands and other sensitive areas are also given attention. Recently, projects like the anti demersal shark long lining, campaigning for the use of buoy-less and rope-less options for the rock lobster fishing industry which are notorious for entangling and killing whales and the anti-ship to ship fuel transfers in Algoa Bay which have caused an 81% drop in the endangered African penguin population, have been given priority. In 2005 Lloyd held the first function to welcome the whales to Algoa Bay. In 2018 the first “Welcoming the Whales Festival” was held in Port Elizabeth. Besides focusing on the Southern African Humpback Whale Migration, the festivals also address various factors that are harmful to whales and the marine environment. Last year this had spread to 25 venues in four countries and this year we are hoping for 30 venues in 6 countries. After visiting and doing much work on similar routes in Australasia and South America, the work will continue post-Covid.

About Minke Witteveen: Minke Witteveen has her PhD in Oceanography which focused on the ecological and social sustainability of boat-based whale-watching tourism in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Nelson Mandela University. She is passionate about the natural environment and conservation, and enjoys pursuing her interests in a wide variety of topics, as well as instilling passion for conservation through environmental education.

Minke Witteveen

About Pierre De Villiers: Conservation Ecology & Education; MSc. Integrated Ecosystem Assessment) Senior Manager :Marine and coasts operations, Cape Nature 

Marine Protected Area - Their value in terms of ecosystems and biological diversity and socio-economic value.

Pierre De Villiers


About Chanel Hauvette:Senior Marine Field Ranger of Robberg Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area, CapeNature, Chanel has a wide range of experience in the marine conservation and tourism industry.Having gained her National Diploma in Nature Conservation and going on to working in the commercial whale watching industry as a marine guide, a volunteer coordinator of a marine programme, a conservation manager at both a wildlife rehabilitation centre and on a private island in the Seychelles, a seabird rehabilitator at SANCCOB Saves Seabirds and having gained experience at sea through various marine research trips and NSRI voluntarily hours, she carries a wealth of knowledge of the ocean and how to traverse it by boat.Over a course of ten years, she has practiced her rescue, stabilisation, logistics and release efforts of marine wildlife along our coastline, hence earning her the responsibility of managing the Plett Marine Animal Stranding Network.

Chanel Hauvette

About Lacey Williams:Lacey Williams was born and raised in Washington, DC, attending Colgate University for her tertiary studies, in which she excelled. After graduating magna cum laude, Williams spent a year gaining experience in various pursuits and in 2017 moved to Cape Town where she worked on a great white shark cage diving boat with white shark expert and world-renowned wildlife photographer, Chris Fallows. Lacey assisted with several ongoing research projects on great white sharks, where she met her current advisor at the University of Miami, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag.Due to that research, Williams was co-author of a peer-reviewed paper published in the online journal, Scientific Reports, in February of this year. In 2019 she assisted with two major research projects in South Africa, the first of which evaluated the efficacy of the De Hoop Marine Protected Area, South Africa’s flagship marine reserve, in protecting smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) and six other endemic shark species from commercial shark fishing pressure using acoustic telemetry and Baited Remote Underwater Video surveys (BRUVs).The second project became the focus of her master’s thesis and investigated the natural predatory interactions between great white sharks and Cape fur seals in Plettenberg Bay. During her master’s degree, Williams was a member of the Shark Research and Conservation program publishing a second peer-reviewed article in Ecology’s “The Scientific Naturalist” online journal that highlighted a unique and understudied behavioral interaction and received international media attention, including Forbes magazine and Science News.Upon completion of her master’s defense in May of 2022, Williams returned to South Africa where she is now the head field specialist for the Oceans Research Institute in Mossel Bay. Currently, she manages the internship program and various ongoing research projects on the white sharks and local marine fauna within Mossel Bay.

About Mike Kantey:Mike Kantey, having spent the first 50 years of his life in Cape Town, moved to Plettenberg Bay in 2007, where he started his own publishing house, the Watermark Press, consisting largely of Plett-based authors. This after a long career in the book publishing, media & development sector.During the last ten years, he has also published his own work: a two-volume family history; A Brief, Illustrated History of Plettenberg Bay; a book on the anti-nuclear struggle (he has also been an activist for over forty years); and more recently, his eyewitness account of madness and incarceration.Arising from his work on the committee of the Van Plettenberg History Society under the late Peter Tullis and Clive Noble, he also started the Watercourse History Festival in Plettenberg Bay, which is now in its fourth year.

About Kuhle Hlati:Kuhle Hlati is a scientific technician at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), where she provides scientific technical support on marine top predator research focusing on sharks and turtles. She has a background in biological oceanography, marine top predator and marine mammal bioacoustics.A trained Marine Mammal Observer and Passive Acoustic Monitor with experience in land-based, ship-based and boat-based marine mammal observations, Kuhle has a strong interest in ocean soundscape especially identifying sources of anthropogenic noise in the ocean and how they affect marine biodiversity.Her other interests include environmental education and citizen science initiatives, she participates in numerous environmental education initiatives by DEFF to promote passive acoustic monitoring.

Kuhle Hlati

About Kyle Smith:Kyle is currently employed as a SANParks Marine Ecologist for the Frontier Region, based at Scientific Services in Rondevlei. Kyle studied at Rhodes University, completed a BSc degree in Zoology and Ichthyology, Honours in Ichthyology and Fisheries science, and an MSc in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science in 2005.He is working on his doctorate at the moment. Upon completion of his MSc Kyle worked overseas in Scotland on an Atlantic salmon farm before returning to South Africa and joining SANParks, where he has been for 14 years. Involved in a wide range of projects Kyle’s emphasis is on understanding local recreational and subsistence line fisheries from a social-ecological perspective. He has won three Garden Route Kudu awards and one National Kudu Award, an achievement he is very proud of and grateful for.Through NMU, Rhodes and UNISA he has supervised six BTec students, two Honours students and three MSc students. He is author and co-author on 22 published research papers.Kyle is married with two young children who are the centre of his universe. Family is important to him. Challenge is good, stress is not so good, life is short and he strives to live with purpose.

Kyle Smith

About Wilma Swanepoel:Wilma Swanepoel is currently a full-time programme manager working on a portfolio of Climate and Environment programmes across Africa, whilst completing her final year in obtaining a Diploma in Nature Conservation through UNISA. She plans to continue her studies in 2024 towards a Bachelor of Science.Wilma is a passionate naturalist and citizen scientist with a keen interest in marine science and the study of intertidal rocky shores. In her free time she can be found diving our diverse coastline and hauling a load of identification books with her on the rocks during low tide.Her volunteer work has started from a very young age, dating back to the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town in 2000. She was 14 at the time and have volunteered for the oceans ever since. Her love for the ocean started as a little girl going with her dad on fishing trips and being extremely curious about the different creatures she observed living on the rocks and the big body of water stretching as far as the eye can see. She instantly fell in love and wanted to do everything in her power to protect the ocean and the amazing creatures who call it home.Wilma believes in the power of volunteers, their contribution towards the protection and conservation of our natural environment is extremely important and it provides communities the opportunity to contribute, to learn and to enjoy our natural heritage and believes The Strandloper Project opens the door for people to experience this.

About Zandile Ndhlovu:Zandile Ndhlovu is a freediving instructor and founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to create diverse representation in the ocean arena. Her work centres around enabling access to ocean spaces to local ocean communities with the goal of bringing about inclusive participation in the use of ocean spaces recreationally, professionally and in sport, while creating a new generation of ocean guardians.As a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, she is able to make use of these skills in her advocacy while working to reshape narratives through storytelling. She has contributed to global topics that include ocean conservation, climate change, coastal justice and capacitating the youth to participate in the Blue Ocean Economy. Zandile is an agent for change using her voice to create the needed expansion in society, through her work in the foundation, public speaking and on her social media platforms.

Zandile Ndhlovu

About Susan Swain:A qualified nature conservationist, Sue’s work in the conservation field has taken her from the Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre at Cape Point to social ecologist at Addo Elephant National Park, to managing Working for Water projects in and around Port Elizabeth, and to stewardship in the Garden Route National Park.Sue’s deep passion is biomimicry. She is the founder of BioWise, a social enterprise that promotes the practice of biomimicry. As a certified biomimicry educator and a biomimicry practitioner, Sue has presented & lectured on biomimicry to more than 200 special interest groups, schools, tertiary institutes, businesses and all spheres of government.

Susan Swain

About Jessica SeathJessica Seath was born and grew up in Johannesburg, but despite this felt passionate about pursuing ocean science. She studied zoology and environmental science at Rhodes University where she became most interested in trans-disciplinary practice in marine science.Her masters research brought her to Knysna where she began her thesis on ecological engineering in the Knysna Waterfront Harbour. Choosing to pay particular interest to the fish and invertebrate ecology in these artificial systems, she has since started working for the NPO The Knysna Basin Project. This has expanded her efforts to include additional work on coastal systems research, conservation initiatives, and ecological education in the Knysna and surrounding areas.


Beacon Island, Lagoon Room
Plettenberg Bay
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