The Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium (SASRS) is a biennial meeting of the academic community of Southern Africa who are currently conducting research on these taxa.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust in partnership with Marine Dynamics will be hosting the 6th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium from 17 – 19 November 2021 in Gansbaai, South Afirca.
The 2021 theme will be Catalyst for Change: Post-pandemic research on Southern African Chondrichthyans.

Symposium information

The theme of the symposium for 2021 is Catalyst for Change:
Post-pandemic research on Southern African Chondrichthyans.

Dyer Island Conservation Trust in partnership with Marine Dynamics are excited to host the 6th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium (SASRS). This biennial meeting of the academic community provides opportunity for research updates, collaboration, and inspiration. Once again the symposium will include a wide range of disciplines from spatial, physiological, genetic and molecular to conservation and socio economic studies. 

As we emerge from the pandemic the 6th SASRS will offer the chance for the African shark and ray research community to engage and share information on the status of their different projects. As usual it will include a wide range of disciplines from spatial, physiological, molecular biology, to conservation and socio-economic studies. The SASRS attracts marine biologists, researchers, students, conservationists, government officials, and tour operators and companies from predominantly sub-Saharan African countries, including Mozambique, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa.

Save our Seas Foundation has once again provided sponsorship, some of which will be allocated to travel grants. We are honoured to follow these organisations that have hosted our previous symposia/symposiums: KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board  (2011), Shark Spotters (2013), Oceans Research (2015), South African Shark Conservancy (2017) and Two Oceans Aquarium (2019).

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is looking forward to welcoming these and many other significant players to the 6th Southern African Shark and Ray Symposium in November.

The SASRS will be composed of a combination of oral and poster presentations, workshops, and public events – with plenty of added fun and adventure planned for attendees. Keynote presentations will be scheduled throughout the Symposium. 

Abstract submissions are open – please get your abstracts to the Symposium committee before 30 July 2021. Abstracts can be submitted to brenda@dict.org.za.

We are also pleased to announce the Scientific Committee who will assess the abstract and presentations submitted and help chair the sessions.

  1. Dr Alison Kock (SANParks / University of Cape Town)
  2. Dr Charlene Da Silva (Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment)
  3. Dr Nathalie Viljoen (Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation)
  4. Dr Clova Mabin (Save our Seas Foundation)
  5. Geremy Cliff (University of KwaZulu Natal)
  6. Prof. Paul Cowley (SAIAB)
  7. Dr Enrico Gennari (Oceans Research / SAIAB)
  8. Sarah Waries (Shark Spotters)
  9. Alison Towner Rhodes University / Dyer Island Conservation Trust)
  10. Ralph Watson (Rhodes University / Dyer Island Conservation Trust)

The Organising Committee from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust with support from Marine Dynamics is Brenda Walters, Pinkey Ngewu and Cari Roets.

The 6th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium invites delegates from diverse disciplines and interest groups to participate to ensure meaningful and robust discussions which will deliver outcomes beneficial to chondrichthyan species, marine ecosystems and human communities. Changes in some SA shark species distributions and/or numbers have highlighted the fact that collaborative chondrichthyan research has never been more urgent. Furthermore, the global pandemic has resulted in many pressures, limiting, or preventing ongoing fieldwork, such as travel restrictions, lab closures, research that is dependent on eco-tourism, or government departments that were locked down for months. 

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, based in Gansbaai, has since 2006 supported marine research, conservation, and education. A key objective through the research is to protect the long-term future of the local marine species, by translating knowledge into evidence-based conservation initiatives and legislation. The Marine Dynamics vessels have provided a critical observational platform as well as operational and financial support to various projects including observational, environmental, and telemetry based shark research. 

The preliminary programme includes presentations on the first two days and workshops on the third day. On the evening of the 16th November, delegates can do early registration and enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants in Gansbaai. There will be an icebreaker event on the 17th and a gala dinner evening on the 18th.


GANSBAAI is a key shark aggregation site/ location in the Western Cape, and part of the Cape Whale Coast, a Mission Blue Hope Spot.

The Symposium will be held from 17-19th November 2021 in Gansbaai hosted by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics Shark & Whale Tours. Gansbaai is approximately 2 hours from the Cape Town International Airport, and is easily accessible as a self-drive or by arranged airport transfer.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust/Marine Dynamics team is involved in critical white shark studies based on daily observational data and tagging and tracking studies. Marine Dynamics is an award-winning shark cage diving company showcasing the white shark and the bronze whaler shark. Dyer Island Conservation Trust is a registered non-profit focusing on marine conservation and community projects.

Dyer Island and the surrounding ocean is a critically important eco-system and home to the Marine Big 5. Known as an Important Bird Area, and managed by CapeNature, Dyer Island is home to breeding colonies of the endangered African penguin and other seabirds. About 60 000 Cape Fur Seals are resident on Geyser Rock opposite the island and they attract the densest population of Great White Sharks in the world. The many sheltered areas of the bay provide the breeding ground for the Southern Right Whales that migrate here from the sub-Antarctic islands between June to December each year. The area is also visited by Bryde’s and Humpback Whales as well as various dolphin species.

Delegates are to make their own transport and accommodation arrangements. Shuttles can be available to the venue each day if out of town. A number of accommodation options are available in close proximity to the Symposium venue.


If you would like support the 6th Southern African Shark & Ray Symposium by becoming a sponsor, please get in touch on [email protected].