SANAP celebrates Women in Antarctica on SA National Women’s Day!

SANAP celebrates Women in Antarctica on SA National Women’s Day!

                    On South Africa’s National Women’s Day  we celebrate all the women involved in the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). In the 60 years since the vents of 1956, the phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa. This day is celebrated to empower women and raise awareness. In the last few years many events came about within the Antarctic environment. See the events on the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research website. In South Africa many women play a leading role within the SANAP.

                                                            From L-R: The Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry: Minister Barbara Creecy; the Department of Science and Innovation: (previous) Minister Naledi Pandor  and of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Director: Knowledge Advancement and Support, Tracy Klarenbeek

                                                           Within the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry; (From L- R) Deputy Director-General Oceans and Coasts: Ms Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director: Vessel and Helicopter Management .Directorate: Southern Oceans and Antarctic Support: Ms Khuselwa Ngxabani; Operations and Logistics. Deputy Director: Chuma Phamoli

                       66% of the South Africa National Committee for SCAR is women and chaired by Bettine Jansen van Vuuren(left).  70% of APECSSA is also women, chaired by Liezel Rudolph(2nd) and the founder member was Christel Hansen(3rd). The Champion for South Africa Gateway City, Cape Town is Rudzani Silima(right).

                               The two team leaders currently at the South African stations on SANAE(59) and at Marion Island(77) are women. Dr Abigail(Aby) Paton (left) is not new to SANAP and the first women to do 3 consecutive overwinters in Antarctica (SANAE54,55,56 see images below). Winnie  Moodaley (middle) was a member of Marion 76 and to stayed on as Leader for Marion 77 so this is also her consecutive year. Michelle(Risi)Jones(right) current at Gough Island is part of Gough 64 and Gough 65.

                                      Gendered Power Relations and Sexual Harassment in Antarctic Science in the Age of #MeToo by Meredith Nash and Hanne Nielsen Published online: 09 Jun 2020. “The presence and impact of female Antarctic researchers has increased rapidly. In the 1950s most countries did not allow women to work in Antarctica and there were few female Antarctic scientists. Today females are playing leading and influential roles in Antarctic research.”

                         Celebration of Women in Antarctic Research 23 August 2016,Malaysia. This event was a celebration of female Antarctic researchers and aimed to raise their profile to help provide more visible female role models for early career scientists. SANAP was represented(image right).

  • Join the Facebook group Women in Polar Science
  • Follow below on Twitter:
  • Ocean Women @OceanWomxn
  • WomenInScienceSA @OWSD_SA
  • Women in Polar Science @WomeninPolarSci

To read more about the women in history of South African National Antarctic Programme visit the Antarctic Legacy of South Africa website

SCAR2020 online – South African participating in Online Conference

SCAR2020 online – South African participating in Online Conference

SCAR2020 Online starts on Monday 27th July with related events, with the conference starting on Monday 3rd  August till 7th August with an APECS workshop from 11-13 August2020.

“ SCAR’s Open Science Conferences have been a focal point for the Antarctic research community for over fifteen years. Through SCAR 2020 Online we are excited to present many of the highlights of the science we had originally planned to bring to you at the Hobart OSC, which was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SCAR2020 online include Plenary Events, Workshops, Mini-Symposia and Related events

                                South Africa has been part of SCAR since 1959 and over the years researchers of South Africa attended these conferences. Over the past decades, principal investigators of SANAP and their students gave oral and poster presentations. This year the XXXVI SCAR was scheduled to be held in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia from 31 July to 11 August 2020. A big group of South Africans were going to attend this meeting. Scientists, researchers and students submitted abstracts for the conference, although not all of these will be orally presented (some will be available on virtual display). All the abstracts have been compiled in a book of abstracts.

SCAR2020 Online – Related Events (UTC time)
Monday, 27 July 2020
* 0600-0800  Session 25  Sea ice in the atmosphere-ice-ocean-biosphere system
* 0930-1130  Session 36  Antarctic Heritage
* 1100-1300  Session 25  Sea ice in the atmosphere-ice-ocean-biosphere system
* 1200-1530  Session 36 Environmental factors driving diversity and composi on of fossil and living Antarctic communities
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
  1300-1600 Meeting SOOS West Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Arc Regional Working Group Committee meeting
* 1300-1500 Session 41 Living and Working in Antarctica, Session A
  1400-1600 Workshop Biogeochemical Argo Workshop
  1800-2230 Session 5 Antarctic Sea ice variability and change
* 2000-2200 Session 41 Living and Working in Antarc ca, Session B
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
  0500-0800 Session 46  Public Engagements with Antarc ca in a Changing Climate 
  1200-1400 Session 36  Environmental factors driving diversity and composi on of fossil and living Antarctic communi es – Session 2 
Thursday, 30 July 2020
  0900-1100 Session 45 Inclusive Collaborations in Antarctic Research
  1800-2200 Workshop ASPeCt* Workshop
  2000-2130 Meeting Geothermal Heat Flow Side Meeting
Friday, 31 July 2020
  0600-0800 Session 37 The ATS, Interna onal Law and Governance, Session 2
  1300-1500 Session 37 The ATS, Interna onal Law and Governance, Session 2

Above schedule for 27th -31st July. “The full program will be uploaded in coming days on the SCAR2020 website.  Please note that session start and end times may change slightly in the final program to allow for smooth transition between sessions.” See schedule with an indication(*) of where South Africans will be participating – the schedule will change over the next two weeks, follow us on Twitter (@Antarcticlegacy) and FaceBook to keep track of changes. Below this week schedule. 

All the best to all our presenters during SCAR2020 Online!!

Sunday Science: SEAmester Programme

Sunday Science: SEAmester Programme

                  The SEAmester programme is a marine science winter school founded by Prof. Isabelle Ansorge of UCT which takes place at sea and provides the perfect platform for coupling both academic research and learning.  Every year approximately 100 students, lecturers and scientists from over 15 different institutions (both local and international) come together for approximately 10 days at sea onboard the SA Agulhas II. SEAmester exposes postgraduate students to multiple different marine science disciplines through daily lectures, practicals, and regular interaction with many professionals conducting their research onboard South Africa’s state of the art research vessel.

3 of the 4 previous SEAmester cruises have sampled the Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA) transect.  ASCA was an array of moorings deployed across the Agulhas Current from April 2016 to May 2018, in order to better understand the physical properties and dynamics of the Agulhas Current. The ASCA project extended the research undertaken along this array during the Agulhas Current Time-series project by continuing to sample the same 20 hydrographic stations. In-situ data in the Agulhas Current is very rare, and the collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach adopted during SEAmester has greatly improved our understanding of the complex Agulhas Current System.  More information in paper by Morris et al., 2017  Above: Location of the stations sampled during SEAmester. Figure by James Maitland.

Left: Last year during SEAmester IV we experienced 3 consecutive cold fronts with resulting waves of up to 10m in size. This rough weather meant we were only able to sample 16 out of 20 of our planned stations. Photo credit: Thando Mazomba

Sampling during SEAmester IV has included physical oceanography, biogeochemistry, phytoplankton, zooplankton, ichthyoplankton, microplastics, marine parasites, marine bacteria, marine seabirds and mammals, meteorology, benthic dredge sampling and more. SEAmester has provided an incredible opportunity for scientists from different disciples to work together and at the same time providing students with invaluable seagoing experience. The 5th SEAmester cruise which was due to take place this week has unfortunately been postponed until next year due to COVID-19.

SEAmester has changed the lives of students! “Department of Science and Innovation’s 10-year Global Change Grand Challenge programme requires platforms to ‘attract young researchers and retain them by exciting their interest in aspects of global change; while developing their capacity and professional skills in the relevant fields of investigation.” – Isabelle Ansorge


  • This programme has been the best experience in my life. It changed my outlook on how to gather knowledge, where to do research, how to think logically as well as to be creative and intuitive”
  • “I have made so many new friends and build up my contacts for future endeavours”
  • “SEAmester has made me realise that I have a passion for ocean-based research”
  • “It has greatly influenced my general career goals and aims”
  • “I really enjoyed meeting so many people from a diverse range of backgrounds and sciences”
  • “I loved the way the content of SEAmester has helped me to link up all the theory that I have learnt over the years”
  • “SEAmester was the best experience of my life”
  • “I hope that SEAmester will continue in years so other students get the chance to have such an awesome experience”
  • “I have been changed positively by this course – I am more motivated to tackle my studies”
  • Just being together as a team – it didn’t matter what your background was”
  • “It was a time of my life that I will never ever forget”

                Text Supplied by Laura Braby – SAEON- Egagasini Node. Student Comments supplied by Isabelle Ansorge. Images available on Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive. More videos and images available at

Saturday Student: Tahlia Henry

Saturday Student: Tahlia Henry

Where did it all started for Tahlia: “From an early age I have had an unbridled passion for the ocean and understanding technology, which led me to pursue my studies in Oceanography at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). I chose to study here as it provided a platform to not only gain academic experience within an oceanographic context, but to also gain field experience. In my third year (2014) I was placed at Bayworld Centre of Research and Education (BCRE) in order to complete a number of research projects which spanned across an array of oceanographic disciplines, namely: Marine Instrumentation, Marine Resource Management, Ocean Sciences and Marine Outreach. This placement exposed me to the different aspects of oceanography and allowed me to find my particular field of interest. It was there, at BCRE, that I was exposed to physical oceanography, data processing and development of marine instrumentation. I knew that I had found my niche within the oceanographic community and would strive to further my education, work experience and continue to learn and grow within this sector. After earning a National Diploma, I completed a BTech degree where I continued to work part-time at BCRE and develop my final research project. This project focused on the development of two sub-sea moorings, each housing a 75 kHz Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), which I was fortunate enough to deploy between two sub-Antarctic Islands—Marion Island and Prince Edward Island—while aboard the research vessel, SA Agulhas II.

Following the completion of my BTech degree, I continued to work on this mooring data over the next four years, returning to Marion Island and ensuring the safe retrieval and re-deployment of the sub-sea moorings. The data collected formulated the basis of my MSc research project, entitled Impact of ocean variability on Shelf-Seas surrounding the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands.

In conjunction with my studies I’ve had the opportunity to take part in numerous oceanographic research cruises and expeditions. My first cruise, on board the RV Algoa with the operational oceanographic team from BCRE, exposed me to deep-sea mooring operations, in-situ data collection and hydrographic measurements. After this I joined the SA Agulhas II on its annual expedition to Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha, thereafter opening the door for numerous further excursions to sea. My subsequent extensive seagoing experience of over 20 cruises, from the North Sea, to sub-Antarctic islands, to Antarctica, has seen my responsibilities range from regularly being an oceanographic technician to acting as chief scientist on multiple occasions. In 2016 I was appointed as the co-ordinator of SEAmester, South Africa’s Class Afloat, which revealed a very different aspect of seagoing work, mainly from a logistic point of view and stepping into a teaching role. It has been truly rewarding to watch this programme grow over the last 5 years while working closely with Prof. Isabelle Ansorge, the Head of Department of Oceanography at the University of Cape Town. Together, we were able to mimic this programme on an international multi-disciplinary research cruise, the Antarctic Circumpolar Expedition (ACE), on board the RV Akademik Tryoshnikov as Leg Zero of a three-legged voyage.

               More recently I have been exposed to the commercial oceanographic industry by working as a marine technician for Lwandle Marine Technologies. Albeit a brief time spent with Lwandle, I have experienced a very different aspect of oceanography in practice. I worked on a variety of contracts utilising skills I’ve gained over the years such as commercial diving operations, in situ data collection and hands-on instrumentation repairs/maintenance. These contracts also opened the door to innovative ways of thinking, problem solving and team work. I was also involved in equipment sales, field trip logistics and ‘meet and greets’ with clients which have been a great learning opportunity.

                     In December 2018 I was hired by the Flotilla Foundation and Weddell Sea Expedition (WSE) to serve on board the SA Agulhas II for the WSE chartered voyage. I was employed as the CTD technician, CTD data analyst, laboratory manager and winch driver for all tethered instruments. It was truly a great privilege to form part of this prestigious voyage, conducting science around the Larsen ice-shelf, Weddell Sea basin and finally hunting for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance.

In September 2019, I was accepted into the Hydrography MSc (taught Masters) programme offered at Plymouth University in England. Moving away from my family to a new country and starting a new masters seemed a daunting task. However, it was made easier by the amazing friends I made abroad. Plymouth became my home away from home and my friends became family. I gained an incredible amount of hands on experience within the Hydrographic industry and gained invaluable skills as a junior surveyor. Our lecturers are extremely dedicated and ensured that we were saturated in hydrographic literature and at the fore front of cutting edge hydrographic technology used within the industry. I am currently completing my dissertation in volumetric analysis of sediment transport over a prestigious ship wreck site. This is to aid the conservation, management of the wreck site and to provide first pass description of the sedimentology of the area. I am so excited about what the future may hold and look forward to blazing a path within the hydrographic industry and grow as a hydrographic surveyor.

I love my career as it is ever changing and growing with the current climate or latest technological advances. I have been able to see the world, visit remote and beautiful locations, sail the high seas and build incredible bonds with fellow scientists. It isn’t always an easy journey, but conquering the challenge of this lifestyle and career choice is what makes it worthwhile. The sense of adventure is never ending and I’m always learning along the way. Madame Curie once said that nothing in life is to be fear but rather understood, so that we understand more and fear less. I think this gives us a great sense of pride in what we do and to strive to be curious about our world, to best understand, preserve it and pass the torch on to future generations.

To future researchers, be diligent, work hard and persevere throughout your career. There will be challenging days but there will also be days that out shadow the challenges and fuel your passion for science. Always be teachable no matter your age, and always willing to learn and lend a hand to your fellow scientists. The work you do throughout your career will not only impact and improve your life but will pave the way for those coming up behind you. So take pride in what your work, rise up to the challenges and enjoy the journey! (Right: Photo credit:Alexander Oelofse during SEAmester)

Links to follow Tahlia or read more  

Text and Images supplied by Tahlia Henry

Friday Freelancer: Stephen Peel

Friday Freelancer: Stephen Peel

Stephen involvement in SANAP started back in 2016 when he was a student at UCT. He was working towards his Honours degree in Environmental Management when he came across the SEAmester programme and the opportunity to go to sea. “I applied and successfully made it into the programme. This was a huge moment as Antarctica and the South Africa’s prized research vessel, the SA Agulhas II, have always fascinated me. I loved every minute of the SEAmester programme, so much so that I spent every moment of extra time learning about all the science instruments used on the expeditions to Antarctica. Later that year I was granted the opportunity to participate in the SANAE 56 take over expedition. As expected, I did indeed fall in love with Antarctica.

                                     Throughout my university career I had been very involved in home-brewing and the brewing industry. I was virtually brewing as much as I was studying and started a nano brewery in the back of a local Cape Town pub. I would bounce between classes and the brewery daily spending most of my time forging relationships with bars and brewers. Before I knew it, this hobby had turned into a functioning business. I had a small range of beers that I would sell before I’d even brewed the beer. As a student, cash and cash flow are always a difficulty and this sales approach (which is very unusual) worked for my situation.

                             The SANAE 56 take over expedition was an experience that changed my life for the better. I learnt the importance of science and exploration as a fundamental duty to better protect our planet. I was amazed by the commitment of the scientists and researchers involved in ocean and Antarctic studies. It was also on this expedition that I read and learnt about the great Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose unrivaled story of leadership, exploration and survival had an impact on me. So much so that upon returning from Antarctica I decided to name our brewery Shackleton Brewing Company. Our goal as a brand is to inspire people through Shackleton’s endeavor and acknowledge the value of research in ocean and Antarctic studies. This has always been a focus on the brand and translating this through our products.

My biggest life decision came after the SANAE 56 take over expedition. I had to choose whether to continue my studies or work in the field that I had studied or to pursue the brewing business. At the time the business did not feel like a sustainable option, but I saw it as an experience that I could learn from. It all fell into place when I secured an investor that funded a proposal, I put forward to purchase a brewery from the UK. Signed, sealed and my brewing path had been decided. I spent two months in the UK packing up a brewery into a container to send back to Cape Town. The equipment was in perfect condition when it landed after a long cruise from Bristol port. Over the next few years, the business grew, and the brand has become established in the brewing industry.

It had always been a goal to collaborate with Univeristy of Cape Town and the Oceanography department, which has given me so much. Our idea came into fruition as we set out to celebrate science and sustainability in the form of a beer. Using the discarded Antarctic sea ice cores as the primary ingredient (water), we made a beer that embodied the message of science and sustainability. The beer used organic malt, sensibly harvested hops and packaged in a handmade wooden box with the story about the project. We partnered with institutions and organisations who played an important role in making this product possible. Shackleton has committed 10% of all the beer sales to be donated to the SEAmester programme in the hopes of funding 1 extra student to have the experience I did. It was a brilliant launch night with Antarctic Legacy of South Africa (a partner in the project) displaying books, info packs etc for the guests to read. Many people don’t know the value of the research done in Antarctica and this night was an experience that educated and celebrated science to our beer community.

                                         Why you love your career in science?I have a huge obsession with business and the many ways to make success out of it. That said, it’s incredibly difficult to actually succeed. Where I feel my true expertise, lie is in the science of brewing. I love the care and attention to all variables that create the outcome. Small slip ups in brewing have exponential knock on effects in the end product. There is science in controlling these variables to consistently producing the same product. There is a saying which I really appreciate – “brewing beer is a science but brewing great beer is an art”. I believe if you can marry the two, you’ll have success in the quality of the product.

                                        My message to future scientists and researchers: “I believe that science and exploration is a noble pursuit but undoubtedly a rewarding one. It is also our duty to better understand the world and how best to preserve nature its beauty. There is also infinite amount of problems to solve and hypothesize to prove. By becoming a scientist, I believe you are an explorer with intrigue and wonder. I have had the privilege of working with ground-breaking scientists and researchers who have dedicated their life contributing to our collective knowledge about the world.”

Images: Herman Luyt, Stephen Peel, Antarctic Legacy of SA. Text by Stephen Peel

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