Over a period of 5 days 172 people participate in the 6th SANAP symposium. A lot has happened in the past 4 years since the last symposium in Hermanus in 2018 and feedback on research and other activities within SANAP featured on the program. The symposium was hosted by Stellenbosch University at Houw Hoek Hotel in the Grabouw valley where the participants built on a SANAP Research community for the future.

The Symposium kicked off with a hybrid meeting of the South African national committee for SCAR and the first evening a keynote lecture was presented by Prof Jukka Tukhuri (Aalto University, Finland) on the discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance on a voyage of the SA Agulhas II. During the symposium keynote lectures and plenary talks were given by Dr Peter Convey of British Antarctic Survey, Dr Sue Tonin of Mouse Free Marion and Prof Marcello Vichi on the Polar Lab part of the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI).

The purpose of the symposium was to facilitate the free exchange of scientific information within SANAP research. In the Marine and Antarctic Research strategy it states that: “The need for coordinated, extensive and targeted research in the marine and oceanic domain has been underlined. Coordination has become important as there has been a shift in marine science from resources and process studies that could be carried out by small groups or individuals to very large-scale regional climate and ecosystem studies, where the success, nooses and benefits lie in the coordination.” One of the strategies outlined is: “creation of a society informed on the value of marine and Antarctic research initiatives.”

The following five thematic (vertical) areas were prioritised for research sessions and various principal investigators and researchers within SANAP chaired the sessions:

  • Oceans and marine ecosystems under global change – Dr Rampai, Dr Fietz, Dr Thomalla, Dr Nicholson and Dr Lamont
  • Earth systems observations – Prof Nel, Dr Lotz
  • Ecosystems, biodiversity and biodiscovery – Prof Van Vuuren, Prof Cowan, Dr Greve, Prof Pistorius, Dr Wege,
  • Innovation and development – Prof A Bekker
  • Human Enterprise – Dr Lavery

Cross-cutting support interventions were discussed such as:

  • Coordination and governance by Dr Gilbert Siko and Tracy Klarenbeek
  • Human capital development and transformation chaired by Prof Ansorge
  • Public awareness and engagement chaired by A Louw
  • Research Infrastructure and platforms chaired by Dr T Morris
  • Data management chaired by Dr Treasure

Feedback from SA National Committee for SCAR, APECSSA, SCALE expeditions and SEAmester were given and an evening session was held by the APECSSA committee where all the early career researchers that attended the symposium had great discussions. The newly established SAPRI was showcased to the SANAP community in cross discipline sessions on research infrastructure and platforms, data management and engagement, and a keynote lecture on the SAPRI Polar Lab that concluded all the research presentations

It was the first time that so many South African polar researchers were together on the 1st December on  International Antarctic Day and a special Antarctic Breakfast took place to commemorate this International Day. A map of Antarctica, was signed and a cake was provided to celebrate the occasion.

The organising committee would like to thank all participants and attendees for making the 6th SANAP symposium a success and achieving its aim in building a SANAP research Community for the future. We are looking forward to the next Symposium in Kruger National Park in 2025 that will be hosted by a consortium of University of Johannesburg, Fort Hare University and the University of the Free State.

Comment by an ECR: “This was my very first SANAP symposium and it was absolutely incredible! Job well done to all those who assisted in organizing the event. Although it was a jam-packed week, the sessions were extremely interesting and well organized. The location was a perfect venue choice for this kind of event – especially for people to mingle, engage with one another and building strong relationships as well as for making connections for potential research collaborations. I am really impressed with the big focus that this symposium had on Early Career Researchers – I think it is a great way of getting the younger professionals more involved and to network! Congrats on pulling off a very successful SANAP Symposium!”

More will follow of the symposium and sessions that took place with a photos.

A huge thank you to the NRF for making the symposium possible and to all our suppliers and sponsors; Houw Hoek Hotel, Neelsie Travel Bureau, Adjuvo enterprises, Trilogy Audio Services, Crazylicous Cookies.

Featured Image: David Hedding

Image of signatures on Antarctica map : Anche Louw



© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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