Cape Town Tourism Award: Leading Edge for Visitors Experience 2019

We are honoured to receive the Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience for a second consecutive year, during the Cape Town Tourism Annual General Meeting held at the CTICC on 23 October 2019.

This category is awarded to a Cape Town Tourism Member who successfully engages visitors in their sustainability efforts. This award aims to celebrate that tourism can be a force for good without compromising on visitor enjoyment. Marine Dynamics met the core values of providing visitors with memorable boat-based marine wildlife experiences through being committed to operating sustainably. The award highlighted how Marine Dynamics and associated business create awareness and encourage visitors to be responsible tourists.

Your Choice Makes A Difference is the motto of responsible tourism award winners, Marine Dynamics and sister company Dyer Island Cruises. The companies are Fair Trade Tourism certified and through their environmental project, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, are making a real difference for conservation and the community.

Cape Town Tourism Chairperson, Julie-May Ellingson, Marine Dynamics Marketer, Liezel Viljoen and CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy.

Visitors experience the marine world with an onboard marine biologist. They learn about sharks and other marine species through an educational video briefing and are introduced to the science by the biologist. The platform of daily observational data on species is critical to our globally recognised science that can ultimately influence conservation decisions. While on the boat, the team take daily readings of sea temperature, water oxygen levels and log each sighting in detail. This environmental parameter monitoring is used in behavioural studies. Fin ID photos are taken of white sharks and humpback dolphins for population studies. The team also collects southern right whale skin and faeces samples for genetic studies. Visitors become part of this experience. Should there be any waste at sea, the team will collect it from the boat. Any seabirds in need are also rescued if required and sometimes rehabilitated penguins are released from our whale boat, close to the island, their natural breeding habitat. Shark cage divers have even witnessed the team rescue a white shark from fishing line. 

Across the associated business within the Marine Dynamics tourism hub all attempts to minimise waste are made and ongoing recycling. There are no plastic bottles used on the shark boat, no small sachets used in the restaurant, no plastic bags allowed, no straws and we use greywater where possible for watering of gardens, and use bio balls in the washing machines. We have our own vegetable garden which benefits from the wet waste compost, and also reduces food miles. We use a solar geyser and low energy light bulbs throughout. We minimise our carbon footprint and invest in low emission boat engines.

No tour is complete without a stop at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary There is no fee to visit the APSS but rather a donation box and the coffee and curio shop on-site feeds into the funding model. Visitors that financially support the conservation projects proves a direct translation into action of the success of the experience

Marine Dynamics and affiliated companies were also awarded as runners up for the Social Impact Award. This category is awarded to a Cape Town Tourism Member that has a creative and long-term approach to improving the lives and opportunities for Cape Town’s communities. The award aims to celebrate how tourism can be a force for good when local people are empowered, and benefits are spread.

Cape Town Tourism Chairperson, Julie-May Ellingson, Marine Dynamics Marketer, Liezel Viljoen and CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy.

Besides creating employment for nearly 100 staff across the associated companies, and educating 35000 visitors per year, local education is a prime responsibility for driving change. In 2016, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP) was established. DEEP works with dedicated groups of young learners and runs for three years to monitor and evaluate the impact and growth of each individual learner. These young learners are exposed to the field of science and conservation that serves as a forerunner for future skills training. This programme, led by Trust educator Pinkey Ngewu, and supported by the team of marine biologists at Marine Dynamics, is focused on learners in Masakhane. This programme of engagement and action inspires learners to protect this unique marine eco-system for future generations.

Environmental education should reach children before the age of 12 years to instil the ethos of conservation so that respect for nature will become second nature. A core group of 13 dedicated “Blue Ambassadors” are selected every year, to attend intensive individual education. The holistic ideal is to incentivise them to achieve at school and motivate them to make career choices in the marine, scientific and conservation fields, whilst encouraging their peers to do the same.

During the programme, we have created two education manuals. The manuals are for the second- and third-year learners. The programme has been extremely successful due to the three years which enables effective monitoring of the impact on the individual, as well as in Masakhane School, and spin-off into the community. The first group graduated at the end of 2018. The Trust has started a DEEP MARINE CLUB for these graduates who are now in high school. Through the club, we aim to keep their interest and do more scientific work preparing them to pursue the new MARINE SCIENCES curriculum.

Further to that, the team at the Marine Dynamics Tourism Hub have been educating thousands of visitors – in fact, it is estimated that over half a million people have been directly reached on site. Another key project, The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, has an estimated 3000 students visit annually and the team speaks on marine topics at various schools. The team also assists with the Dibanisa programme run by Grootbos Foundation, providing two marine lessons, one being a beach clean-up experience.

In Marine Month in October, the team reaches 10 000 students through a school competition done in partnership with the Overstrand Municipality and other partners. Schools are visited where possible and talks done.

The Trust’s key project, the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, started making bags of newspaper a few years ago, but they needed an extra pair of hands. That was when Mariaan Burger, a local Gansbaai resident, stepped in offering her time and energy to the project. Mariaan was encouraged by Trust founder, Wilfred Chivell, to start a ‘production line’ so that the Great White House and any other interested businesses could buy and use these newspaper bags. Now a group of dedicated residents from the Silwerjare service centre for older persons in Blompark, meet weekly to enjoy some time together whilst producing bags of varying sizes. These bags are then purchased for use at the Great White House curio shop and have proved to be quite a hit with guests from all over the world. The extra income from the bags is used for group outings.

Our recent Project Storm, installing stormwater net drains to capture ocean-bound waste, is also a potential employment opportunity, as these will need to be made and maintained.

Marine Dynamics crew members celebrating the award after a busy day at sea.


See also​

Book your adventure of lifetime

Conservation Partners

Dyer Island Conservation Trust

African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary

Department: Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

Cape Nature

Overstrand Municipality

Plastics SA

Tourism Partners

Fair Trade Tourism


Cape Town Tourism

Cape Country Routes

Gansbaai Tourism