Our mission is to inspire action for the future well-being of our oceans. While inspiring awe, providing environmental education and doing conservation work are part of that goal, one often overlooked aspect is scientific research.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is involved in key research areas: Parasitology, marine biodiversity, penguin biology, cnidology (jellies), sea turtles, elasmobranchology (sharks and rays) and improvement of veterinary medicine.
Now you can see all the research we are involved with!
Our website has been updated to include all the research work that the Two Oceans Aquarium has contributed to - find that page here.
Not only do we conduct our own in-house research, but we offer support to external researchers in the form of funding, access to our facilities, animals and resources, and the time and expertise of our resident experts. We collaborate with various higher education institutions and research and conservation organisations to advance the global understanding and appreciation of the ocean and its life. Here are some examples:
Analysing environmental DNA (eDNA)
Molly Czarchur is a Stellenbosch University PhD candidate researching eDNA as a conservation tool. eDNA are the traces left behind in the environment by life that has passed through - Molly hopes that her work will provide a conservation tool that can be used to identify marine animals that may once have lived in an environment that has been damaged, and identify animals that may not have been spotted in existing ecosystems, but may have left traces.
We are happy to support this incredible conservation tool in any way we can - the Aquarium offers a perfect testing ground for this technology, as historic lists of all the animals that have ever inhabited an exhibit are available.
Cryogenic freezing of penguin sperm
Studying penguin sperm may seem, well, weird. But, this science is crucial - with dwindling numbers, conservationists may need to rely on sperm banks to preserve the genetic diversity of species such as the African and northern rockhopper penguin.
Researcher Siya Mafunda of the Universty of the Western Cape has been working closely with the penguins of the Two Oceans Aquarium to find out just how their sperm works, and how it can be cryopreserved.
Tracking the migration of ragged-tooth sharks
As you likely know, the Two Oceans Aquarium keeps several ragged-tooth sharks on display. These sharks only spend a portion of their lives in captivity, but how can we know for sure that once released they are able to return to normal?
Thanks to research conducted with Nelson Mandela University, Rhodes Universty, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, many released and wild sharks have been equipped with tracking devices and monitored over long periods of time. What was the verdict? Captive sharks return to their natural migration paths, hunting patterns and wild behaviours without incident.
If you'd like to find out more about our research work, watch this space. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have a research proposal you think we could assit with - the more we know about the ocean, the better for us all!