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

  • Behavioural study on feeding and reproduction in Semicassis labiata zeylanica (ongoing). T Mazomba (UCT). Intern funding support from TOA.
  • 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

  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Tracking the movement of an adult female Hawksbill turtle after successful rehabilitation at the Two Oceans Aquarium and subsequent release (ongoing). Two Oceans Aquarium, Department of Environmental Affairs & Cape Peninsula University of Technology. 

Shark and ray elasmobranchology

  • 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).
  • Tonic immobility in two species of endemic shysharks. UWC. Lemone Sebastian

Veterinary methods

  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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)