The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa, has been involved in marine research throughout its 24-year existence. With the establishment of the not-for-profit Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, the Aquarium intends on growing its education, conservation and research capacity. The Aquarium supports various external research projects and has increased its internal research outcomes significantly through strong collaboration with higher education institutions such as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. The Aquarium also hosts post-graduate students from the University of Cape Town as well as Rhodes University annually. Internally, our conservation programmes are linked to ongoing projects and our own research is regularly presented at international conferences and gatherings.

Below is a short list of research that the Two Oceans Aquarium (TOA) has carried out and supported in a few key areas:

Biodiversity conservation

  • An analysis of microplastic abundance in Mytilus galloprovincialis found in Table Bay Harbour. TOA, CPUT. D Hill. Supervisors: M Musson and Dr C Sparks.
  • Assessing environmental enrichment protocols at the Two Oceans Aquarium. N Vanto. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Behavioural study on feeding and reproduction in Semicassis labiata zeylanica (ongoing). T Mazomba (UCT). Intern funding support from TOA.
  • The breeding behaviour and success of the Cape cormorant, Phalacrocorax capensis, in a working harbour. CPUT, TOA. T Tebele. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus) entanglements in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront harbour in Cape Town, South Africa, 2010- 2018. R Basson. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Effect of experiences with captive and non-captive African
    penguins (Spheniscus demersus) on conservation attitudes,
    learning, and behavior of visitors
     (2014). AE Kasdin (PU). (TOA capacity support).
  • The effect of submergent macrophytes on the abundance and behaviour of fish assemblages between salt marsh and mangrove habitats of the Nahoon Estuary, South Africa (ongoing). R Keur (UWC, SAIAB). Intern funding support from TOA.
  • Using environmental DNA metabarcoding to reveal genetic fish diversity in multiple marine systems of South Africa (ongoing). M Czachur (US).

Marine parasitology

Penguin biology

  • Aspects of the reproduction of male and female African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) with special reference to sperm biology and cryopreservation (2014). PS Mafunda (UWC). NZG Symposium 2014.
  • Do stable isotope values of feathers change with age? (ongoing). Principle Scientist: Prof P Ryan (UCT). Capacity and samples from TOA.
  • Effect of wear and colour on the carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of feathers (ongoing). L Johnson (UCT). Supervisor: Prof P Ryan. Capacity and samples from TOA.
  • Sperm structure and sperm motility of the African and Rockhopper penguins with special reference to multiple axonemes of the flagellum (2017).  PS Mafunda (UWC), L Maree (UWC), A Kotze (UFS) & G Van der Horst (UWC). Theriogenology 99.
  • The impact of controlled visitor interactions on the behaviour of captive Northern Rockhopper penguins at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa (ongoing). W Ridon (CPUT). Supervisors: Prof. C. Sparks, M Musson.

Sea jelly cnidology

  • Chrysaora fulgida Aquaculture at the Two Oceans Aquarium (ongoing). L Misland (CPUT). Supervisors: Prof. C Sparks, M Musson (TOA).
  • Establishing an alternative diet for rearing the medusavorous jellyfish: Chrysaora fulgida, in situ. (ongoing). L Misland (CPUT). Supervisors: Prof. C Sparks, M Musson (TOA).
  • The effects of temperature on the asexual reproduction of the polyp's of Chrysaora fulgida (ongoing). K Lewis (UWC).

Sea turtle conservation

  • A comparative investigation of neonate loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) stranding data from 2016 to 2018 off the south coast of South Africa. N Vanto. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Biosecurity and treatment of fungal pathogens infecting stranded Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) in South Africa (ongoing). M Maubscher (TOA), Dr B Spolander (TOA) & C Christison (DAFF,UWC).
  • Data analysis of loggerhead turtle hatchling recoveries at the Two Oceans Aquarium between 2014 and 2017 (in progress). M Nel (CPUT). Supervisors: Prof. K Findlay (CPUT), M Musson (TOA).
  • The effect of medical treatments on the growth and release rate of Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) hatchlings at the Two Oceans Aquarium rehabilitation facility. K Spiby (CPUT, TOA). Supervisors: Prof. K Findlay (CPUT) and M Musson (TOA).
  • Impacts of plastic ingestion on post-hatchling loggerhead turtles off South Africa (2016). PG Ryan (UCT), G Cole (TOA), K Spiby (TOA), R Nel, A Osborne & V Perold. Published in Marine Pollution Bulletin 107(1).
  • The oceanic movements of Yoshi, an adult female Loggerhead turtle, released after 20 years in captivity. TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Tracking the movement of an adult female Hawksbill turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and subsequent release. Two Oceans Aquarium, Department of Environmental Affairs & Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
  • Tracking the movement of an adult female Olive Ridley turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and uShaka Seaworld and her subsequent release. SAAMBR, TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Tracking the movement of an adult male Loggerhead turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and its subsequent release. TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Tracking the movement of a sub-adult female Green turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and its subsequent release. TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Tracking the movement of a sub-adult Hawksbill turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and its subsequent release. Principle Scientists: D Anders (DEA), M Musson (TOA) and S Singh (DEA).

Shark and ray elasmobranchology

  • Behavioural patterns of captive male and female ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) at the Two Oceans Aquarium. M Laubscher. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • An investigation into the trophic dynamics of the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in False Bay, South Africa using multiple tissue stable isotope analysis. UCT. (TOA funding and capacity support). Principle scientist: Dr. Alison Kock.
  • Migration and habitat use of formerly captive and wild ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) on the southeast coast of South Africa (2012). MJ Smale (PEMB, NMMU), AJ Booth (RU), MR Farquhar (TOA), MR Meyer (DEA) & L Rochat (AfriOceans). Marine Biology Research 8.
  • The demography and spatial ecology of the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in South Africa. UCT. (TOA funding and capacity support). Principle Scientist: Dr. Alison Kock.
  • The movement analysis of Ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) released from a captive environment on the southeast coast of South Africa. CPUT, TOA. Paul Cronje. Supervisors: Prof. Ken Findlay, M Musson (TOA).
  • Preliminary results from an investigation into the diet of the broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in False Bay, South Africa using stable isotopes. L de Necker (TOA) Principle Scientist: Dr A Kock.
  • Tonic immobility in two species of endemic shysharks. UWC. Lemone Sebastian

Veterinary methods

  • Assessing Biosecurity Practices at the Two Oceans Aquarium. R Basson. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Development of a non-lethal diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of Ichthyophonus hoferi (ongoing). N Nicolle (TOA,UWC), Dr K Christison (DAFF,UWC), Dr G Cole (TOA) & M Laubscher (TOA). 
  • Hexabothrid Monogenaean Parasites In A Group Of Short-Tail Stingrays (Dasyatis Brevicaudata) And Successful Use Of A Blood Transfusion To Treat Anaemia (ongoing). Dept. of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Two Oceans Aquarium & The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. Principle Scientists: Dr K Christison and Dr G Cole.
  • Reversible anesthesia of entangled or injured wild cape fur seals, Arctocephelus pussilus, with butorphanol, midazolam, medetomidine, naltrexone and atipamezole. TOA. Dr B Gardner, M Musson and Dr B Spolander.

Miscellaneous

  • Aquaculture and aquaria – the synergies, symbiosis and successes. SAAMBR, TOA.  Me Musson and Dr L Oellerman.
  • Aquaria food sustainability: optimising aquarium feeding strategies by utilising aquaculture feeding practices and developments. SAAMBR, TOA. Principle Scientists: M Musson and T McEwan.
  • Growing conservation minded scientists through work integrated learning programmes. TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Production performance of cultured rotifers on three different feeding regimes at the Two Oceans Aquarium. S Luzipo. CPUT, TOA. Supervisors: M Musson, Dr C Sparks and Dr N Viljoen.
  • Water Quality analyses of intake, operational systems and outfall in the development of a water quality monitoring and management programme for the Two Oceans Aquarium (ongoing). J Gillespie (CPUT). Supervisors: Prof. K Findlay, M Musson.
  • Water quality monitoring and analysis of the V&A Waterfront marina and canals for recreational use. TOA. Principle Scientist: M Musson.
  • Vertical niche overlap by two ocean giants with similar diets: Ocean sunfish and leatherback turtles (2009). Hayes, G.C. (Swansea University), Farquhar, M, (TOA), Luschi, P (Pisa University), Teo, S.L.H. (University of California), Thys, T.M. (Ocean Sunfish Research and Tagging Program)
  • Reimagining people and plastics: Testing the impact potential of beach cleanups (2018) (ongoing). Sinclair, I. (TOA). Supervisor: Lesley Green, UCT Social Anthropology (Environmental Humanities South)