Marine Dynamics in Gansbaai, Western Cape, is opening a FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) endorsed Marine Guide Training School for local and international students. The seven-week course covers comprehensive theory on the Marine Big 5™ of the area – sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, penguins as well as seabirds. Practical experience involves shadowing of on-board guides educating ecotourism guests on off-shore tours, rocky shore and dune walking, aquarium guiding, birding and marine conservation. The first course begins on the 18th June 2018. Accommodation is provided, and lectures take place at the International Marine Volunteer Centre.
Marine Dynamics offers five-star shark cage diving and whale watching/eco tours with sister company, Dyer Island Cruises, in the unique Dyer Island ecosystem of Gansbaai, South Africa. The companies have been Fair Trade Tourism certified since 2008 and are making a real difference in conservation and the community through their environmental project, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Marine Dynamics’ responsible tourism approach has been recognised through case studies and awards, notably the African/World Responsible Tourism Award, SKAL Sustainable Tourism Award and Lilizela. Guiding students will have the opportunity to learn from these businesses and their conservation work.
Principal trainer, Grant Hine, has thirty years’ experience in the guiding industry, more than half of that spent working on developing the FGASA field guide training material. “Marine Dynamics has embarked on providing the industry with professional marine guides due to the growing need of this profession. This will qualify students to register as legally qualified guides and seek employment. We are also looking forward to launching guiding certification for fynbos, culture and nature. There will also be certificate-based nature enthusiast courses which will appeal to people of all ages living in the Western Cape,” says Hine.
The Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) provides educational opportunities to promote the conservation and rehabilitation of the cultural and natural heritage of Southern Africa. To this end, FGASA maintains and serves a professional association of highly-trained nature guides, tour operators and hospitality institutions who share the vision and are committed to the FGASA Code of Conduct and Responsible Tourism Guidelines.
“Every day we educate our guests on the marine species we work with. We believe education is imperative if we are to help protect our marine ecosystem. Non-consumptive marine tourism is a priority and we need more qualified guides and businesses in this field,” says Wilfred Chivell, CEO of Marine Dynamics. “We are also adding a skills-based internship to our existing volunteer programme that will enable students studying marine biology and similar.”
Marine Dynamics has on board marine biologists who conduct invaluable research on marine species with a specific focus on the great white shark. More than twenty published scientific papers contribute to critical knowledge that can make a real difference in influencing conservation decisions at government level. Another key project is the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Kleinbaai that is open for guests to visit. Other conservation work includes the African penguin nest project and marine pollution efforts with ongoing beach clean ups and unique fishing line bins. The team also handles marine animal strandings and scientific sampling. The environmental education efforts focus on a dedicated group of young learners on a three-year programme plus outreach to thousands more scholars.
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