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Institute for Coastal and Marine Research


On Monday 26 August 2013, SAEON, SAIAB and NMMU formalised a collaborative research partnership that will have far-reaching benefits for coastal and marine research in South Africa.

For the last seven years, SAIAB has hosted the SAEON Elwandle Node in Grahamstown. In this time, their joint ventures have included establishing a variety of research platforms, including the Algoa Bay Sentinel Site. Numerous probes, buoys and stations have been deployed and maintained across the Bay to monitor variables such as sea temperature, ocean currents, wave heights, and sea levels. In fact, the coverage is so comprehensive that Algoa Bay is the most extensively monitored bay in Africa; possibly even in the Southern Hemisphere.

The focus of SAEON in particular is primarily long-term monitoring. This is a wonderful opportunity for research institutions, such as NMMU, where the data collected can contribute to coastal and marine research, particularly in Algoa Bay. Such work is of keen interest to SAIAB, who is keenly interested in long-term research that contributes to our understanding of coastal systems. While a strong working relationship already exists among SAEON, SAIAB and NMMU, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding represents a key step towards a truly synergistic partnership. It provides a formal platform for resources in the form of equipment, data, funding, laboratory space, expertise and the like to be shared for the greater benefit of all.

While the MoU was signed between SAEON, SAIAB and NMMU, the National Research Foundation (NRF) plays a key underlying role. Not only does it support many students with bursaries, scholarships and fellowships, but SAEON and SAIAB are also both NRF entities. Dr van Jaarsveld, Director of NRF, expressed great delight and support for the MoU at the signing ceremony, as did Prof Derick Swartz (Vice Chancellor of NMMU), Prof Andrew Leitch (NMMU Dean of Science), Dr Angus Patterson (Director of SAIAB) and Dr Tommy Bornman (Manager of SAEON Elwandle).

CMR scientists are also in keen support of the MoU, and thoroughly look forward to a productive future of high-impact research that will contribute to our understanding of key ecological processes, biological diversity and species' behaviour. This research, in turn, will help inform conservation of the rich natural coastal and marine resources that bound the South African shoreline, and beyond.

See also this news feed on the NMMU website.