6th  SANAP SYMPOSIUM – Houw Hoek Hotel Grabouw, Western Cape 27 November  – 1 December 2023

6th SANAP SYMPOSIUM – Houw Hoek Hotel Grabouw, Western Cape 27 November – 1 December 2023

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



National Women’s Day: Meet the SAPRI Manager

National Women’s Day: Meet the SAPRI Manager

National Women's Day_SAPRI_2023

Prof Juliet Hermes is the Manager of the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI), the Manager of the NRF- SAEON Egagasini Node, Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and heavily involved in a number of international programs and committees where she represent the fantastic work being done in South Africa and Africa as a whole (see list below). She is a passionate physical oceanographer who loves the ocean, a mom of two boys and her life is guided by the words of late Nelson Mandela:

  “What counts in life is not the mere fact that you have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

She makes a difference in her working environment through her collaborative nature and approachable demeanor. 

“At the NRF- SAEON Egagasini Node I am supported by an incredible team consisting of biodiversity, modelling, observing and engagement specialists and of course administrative support. Together we advance our understanding of the marine offshore environment and our ability to detect, predict and react to global change through long term observations, modelling and research data”. 

From Interim SAPRI Manager to SAPRI Manager  

Juliet was initially involved in SAPRI as the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) institutional champion and worked closely with Dr Tammy Morris and Prof Marcello Vichi in writing the original proposal and following business plan for SAPRI. As the manager of the NRF-SAEON Egagasini Node, which hosts the SAPRI LTO-Land and LTO-Ocean integrated facilities (IFs), she was made the interim manager of SAPRI in November 2021. Following discussions with the National Research Foundation (NRF), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) this role was then made permanent on the 1st of April 2023.

“It is a team effort with SAPRI and SAEON staff working closely together and the community also supporting us through the different user fora”.

Read more about the SAPRI IFs here.

Role of the SAPRI Manager

The role will change over time, the first 3 years will be overseeing the implementation of SAPRI – setting up the governance, employing the staff, overseeing the user fora groups, reporting to the advisory committees, the NRF and the DSI, working with DFFE, the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) and the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (ALSA) to integrate SAPRI and to maximize marine and polar sciences in South Africa. Understand the stakeholder needs and support the current community, whilst driving transformation and bringing in new stakeholders in terms of disciplines and institutes. A key aspect is also ensuring the sustainability of long term observations in the marine and polar space, and resolving long going issues between science and logistics.
Once the implementation has happened the role will be more in overseeing the operations, sourcing additional funding, driving transformation and continuing to work closely with DFFE and SANAP. 

My expectations for SAPRI are for it to fulfill its vision: “to enable balanced and transformed research growth across the multiplicity of marine and polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class, long-term observational research infrastructure and datasets already established within the South African marine and polar research environment.”

Juliet represent South Africa (and Africa) in the following international programs and committees:

  • Ocean Decade task force to implement the Africa roadmap (read more here).
  • Chair of the Climate and Ocean – Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) Indian Ocean Regional Panel.
  • Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Academic Group (IORAG) and the node hosts the South African chapter for this. 
  • Ocean Decade working groups (on capacity development and adaptation).
  • Executive committee member of International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO).
  • Vice chair on the Observation Coordination Group.
  • Work closely with The Global Ocean Observing System for Africa (GOOS for AFRICA). 

Read more: Second professorship for SAEON’s Juliet Hermes

Images and text supplied by Juliet Hermes.  

Anche Louw, South African Polar Research Infrastructure, 09 August 2023. 

NRF Call for SANAP Funding Proposals (2024-2026)

NRF Call for SANAP Funding Proposals (2024-2026)


The NRF-SANAP Funding call is now open! 

Click on the link below to access the submission portal. 

Have you registered on NRF Connect?

Submission deadline: 15 June 2023


Important Documents – as indicated on the NRF website

(Please click on the images below to open the various documents)


Anche Louw, South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI DPS Node), 20 April 2023

International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day 2022

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias”.

This year we are featuring three inspiring women within the South African National Antarctic Programme. They are leaders in their fields and represent South Africa on an international level.


Prof Annie Bekker – Stellenbosch University

Professor in Engineering, Director of the Sound & Vibration Research Group, and currently on the international Endurance 22 expedition (Antarctica).

“My job is about applying maths and science to technology… discovering and searching for new things. It is sometimes difficult, it takes long hours, breakthroughs can be incremental… and many times the belief, momentum, and enthusiasm for success have to come from within myself… Today, I love my job and the hard work to this point is absolutely worth it. I could not get here without encouragement, love, and mentorship in key moments. I cannot continue without the support of my family, the example of my colleagues, or the curiosity of my students – their excellence and hunger for their own new frontiers of discovery.

This is your life. Invest in your education. Believe in yourself, try, try again, never give up. Be hungry to learn. Sharpen your skills. Absorb all that is positive around you. Find mentors. Accept responsibility. Rebound from failure. Celebrate success. Be brave. Dream”.

Check out the Sound & Vibraton Research Group website: svrg.sun.ac.za.

Read more about Annie’s work and adventures here.



Prof Isabelle Ansorge – University of Cape Town

Head of the Oceanography Department at UCT and mastermind behind South Africa’s first class afloat – SEAmester.

Isabelle Ansorge is an observational oceanographer, Professor, and first female Head of the Oceanography Department at the University of Cape Town. Having built an observational oceanography career both nationally and internationally, Prof. Ansorge’s interests lie in Indian, Atlantic, and Southern Ocean dynamics that include Southern Ocean eddy transports of heat and salt, frontal dynamics, and variability in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and its effects on Subantarctic Islands such as Marion Island. Another passion of Isabelle’s is the shipboard training of postgraduate students from all over South Africa and she is the mastermind behind the SEAmester Floating University programme. SEAmester provides an incredible teaching and research platform for South African early-career scientists and lecturers alike. Prof. Ansorge’s list of affiliations is a testament to her extensive experience in the field including being a committee member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), as a member of the start-up committee for the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS), as an Executive Bureau Member of the International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) and formally the vice-president of the International Association for Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO).

Check out the SEAmester website: seamester.co.za.

Read more about Isabelle here.



Prof Bettine van Vuuren – University of Johannesburg

Professor of Zoology, Director of the Centre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife Conservation, and Chair of the South African Committee for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SANC for SCAR).

“The first thing to say is that I believe there is nothing that any person can’t do if they apply their mind (and time) to it. We often set our own ceilings based on general beliefs that society or others impose on us, and it is crucial that we break through these (non-real) boundaries. STEM fields are a case in hand. This is especially true for women, who traditionally were seen as homemakers or child-carers. In STEM specifically, fields such as mathematics, physics, and engineering, and traditionally more field-based disciplines such as zoology, botany, or oceanography, are seen as more suited to men (either because women were not traditionally considered as analytically strong, capable to work in the field, or for that matter, be away from home for any period of time).  It is critical that any person (both men and women) should carefully consider what they enjoy, what their specific strengths are (be that a STEM career for a woman, or as a childcarer/homemaker for a man), and then pursue that with all their strength and passion. Personally, I was initially directed into a field that I had no interest in (because I could not answer questions asked re where I would work if my husband lived in a small town), and from a personal perspective I strongly urge and support women that want to step out of the usual/ typical / what is expected from you by society and follow what they are passionate about”.

Follow Bettine on Twitter (Click here).

You can also visit her website: molzoolab.co.za.

Meet the SANC for SCAR committee here.

Read more about Bettine here.


Image of Prof Bekker supplied by: James-John Matthee. 

Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 08 March 2022
South African Youth Day – Celebrating our SANAP Students

South African Youth Day – Celebrating our SANAP Students

Today 16 June 2021 on South African Youth Day we congratulate the students within SANAP community that have graduated during the past year.

“The lack of a real graduation ceremony made it less sensational, and we risk to forget that we should celebrate our students’ achievements” – Marcello Vichi

Left: Liezel Rudolph received her PhD certificate (all the way from Fort Hare University) during takeover to Marion Island on the S.A. Agulhas II with supervisors Werner Nel and David Hedding. Right: Brendon Nickerson with his supervisor Annie Bekker at PhD graduation ceremony at Stellenbosch University wearing masks.

Elizabeth RudolphPhDFH - Geography and Environmental SciencesWerner Nel, David Hedding
Towards an improved understanding of the Southern Ocean’s biological pump: Phytoplankton group-specific contributions to nitrogen and carbon cycling across the Subantarctic Indian Ocean
Mapuka NomsaMScFH - Geography and Environmental SciencesWerner Nel
The characteristics and trends of rainfall on sub-Antarctic Marion Island and associated air circulation patterns
Tegan Carpenter-Kling PhDNMU - Zoology (MAPRU)Pierre Pistorius
Foraging in a dynamic environment: Movement and stable isotope ecology of marine top predators breeding at the Prince Edward Archipelago’
Heather ForrerMScUCT - Oceanography (Fawcett Lab)Sarah Fawcett
Towards an improved understanding of the Southern Ocean’s biological pump: Phytoplankton group-specific contributions to nitrogen and carbon cycling across the Subantarctic Indian Ocean
Mark HaguePhDUCT - Oceanography (MARIS)Marcello Vichi
The implications of ice - ocean - atmosphere interactions for phytoplankton phenology in the Southern Ocean
Ashleigh WomackMScUCT - Oceanography (MARIS)Marcello Vichi
Atmospheric drivers of ice drift in the Antarctic marginal ice zone
Jamie JacobsonMScUCT - Oceanography (MARIS)Marcello Vichi, A Mishra,R Verrinder
Development of Antarctic ice-tethered buoys
Ayanda MpalweniMScUCT - Oceanography (MARIS)Marcello Vichi, Sarah Nicholson
Characterising the seasonal response of the mixed layer and the transitional layer to the passage of storms in the Sub-Antarctic Zone
Siobhan JohnsonMScUCT - Oceanography (MARIS)Tokoloho Rampai, Marcello Vichi
Evaluation of the changes in the crystal structure of Antarctic sea ice from the marginal ice zone during winter and spring
Alexis OsborneMScUCT - Zoology (Fitzpatrick Institute)Peter Ryan
Understanding moult patterns in albatrosses and petrels breeding on Marion and Gough Islands
Mancha MabasoMScUP - Natural & Agricultural Sciences (GRI)Thulane Makhalanyane
Elucidating the effects of physicochemical variables on the structure, composition and functionality of microbiomes in the Prince Edward Islands
Sunette VosMScUP - Natural & Agricultural Sciences (GRI)Thulane Makhalanyane, Suzanne Fietz
Viral-host dynamics in marine environments
Liezl PretoriusMScUP - Zoology and EntomologyGreg Hofmeyr, Marthán Bester, Maëlle Connan
Effect of sex and ontogeny on the trophic ecology of Southern Ocean fur seals
Kyle LloydPhDUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Chris Oosthuizen
Individual variation in male southern elephant seal demography
Rowan JordaanPhDUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Chris Oosthuizen, Ryan Reisinger
Demographics of Marion Island killer whales
Nico L ü bckerPhDUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, RP Millar
Trophic influences, nutritional status, endocrine response on amino acid metabolism and reproduction of mammals
Yinhla ShilomuleMScUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Ar Hoezel, Chris Oosthuizen
Hybridization and genetic variation of fur seals at Marion Island
Itai MukutyuMScUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Mia Wege
Isotopic niche partitioning in sympatric fur seals from Marion Island
Caitlin van der MerweBSc HonnsUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Cheryl Tosh
Oceanographic indicators of southern elephant foraging area avoidance
Leandri de KockBSc HonnsUP - Zoology (MIMMP)Nico de Bruyn, Chris Oosthuizen
Phenology of southern elephant seal moult
Brendon NickersonPhDUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
Inverse models for ice induced propeller moments on a polar vessel
Gerhard DurandtM.EngUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
Data driven Regression Models for Voyage Cost Optimization Based on the Operating Conditions of the SA Agulhas II
Jesslyn BossauM.EngUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
The Detection and Quantification of Wave slamming from Full Scale Measurements on a Polar Vessel
Armand van ZuydamM.EngUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
An investigation of the seakeeping behaviour of a polar vessel in waves
Nicole TaylorM.EngUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
A Human Cyber Physical System Implementation for Seafarers. (Upgraded to PhD)
Martnique EngelbrechtM.EngUS - Engineering (SVRG)Annie Bekker
Human response to wave induced motion, slamming and whipping. (Upgraded to PhD – awaiting faculty approval)
Jean LoockPhDUS - Geology & Earth SciencesAlakendra Roychoudhury
Austral Summer and Winter Trace Metal Distributions in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Seasonal Sea Ice
Ryan CloetePhDUS - Geology & Earth SciencesAlakendra Roychoudhury
The distribution and biogeochemical cycling of bioactive trace metals in the Southern Ocean
Tahlia HenryMScPlymouth University - School of Biological and Marine SciencesAlex Nimmo-Smith
Critical analysis of physical drivers of sediment movement at the mouth of the Erme Estuary.



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