Education Centre manager
As well as managing the Shark Education Centre in Kalk Bay, Dr Eleanor Yeld Hutchings is the specialist marine biologist presenter for the award-winning South African television documentary series Shoreline, which has already completed two seasons of exploring the coast of South Africa.
Eleanor gained her PhD from the Marine Biology Research Centre at the University of Cape Town. Her research was on the parasites of a number of endemic South African shark species, focusing on the discovery and description of several species new to science, the transmission of blood parasites and the ecology of parasite communities with potential for application in the assessment of fisheries stock.
Demonstrating a special affinity for connecting civil society with the marine environment, Eleanor in the past has managed WWF-South Africa’s People and the Coast programme and, with a tourist guide certificate for marine and coastal tourism, has run a specialist company guiding tours of the marine environment. She is a qualified scuba diver (both commercial and PADI Rescue level) and dive/boat skipper, and she is kept level-headed by trail-running in the Table Mountain National Park. She lives with her husband and son in the seaside village of Kommetjie.
‘It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.’ David Attenborough
As an educator and conservationist whose own fascination with the marine world began with surfing and diving around Cape Town, Paul believes that initiating or growing people’s experience, knowledge and appreciation of our oceans has a vital role to play in protecting our natural world. In between chasing swells up and down the coast of South Africa and enjoying the icy waves of local surf spots, he squeezed in some terrestrial time at the University of Cape Town, studying environmental and geographical science and education.
Paul draws on his significant experience in schools and environmental education when running the SOSF Shark Centre’s programmes. His classes welcome the range of strong opinions inevitably encountered when educating people about sharks.
‘If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.’ David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia
Zanele was born in the northern part of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Even as a young girl she enjoyed cooking very much, so when she completed her matric she decided to make hotel and catering management her career. In March 2008 she started working for SOSF as a housekeeper.
By reading SOSF books and watching videos about the ocean environment, Zanele became interested in marine life. In June 2009 she joined Alison Kock on the research boat to Seal Island in False Bay and there she saw a great white shark for the first time in her life. By the end of that trip she had fallen in love with the sea and decided to become an educator so that she can pass her enthusiasm on to the young generations of South Africa.
‘The more “no”s you get, the closer you get to a yes.’ Chinese proverb
Raised in various small West Coast fishing and mining towns of South Africa and Namibia, with parents whose free-range approach to parenting meant lots of time outside exploring beaches, Claire is a firm believer in the power of experiential education in moulding future generations to become effective conservationists. Claire joined the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre in May 2016 after almost eight years with Liberty Life Financial Services as a franchise business support administrator. With a diploma in administration and legal studies from Montrose Business College in Cape Town, in her role as the facilities administrator she brings a high level of organisation and structure to the dynamic working environment that is the Shark Education Centre. She is enjoying every minute of the varied opportunities this role brings and, in addition to seeing to facilities maintenance and administration, she has become a vital part of the team, joining school groups as they learn about, explore and appreciate the ocean. She has also made it her personal mission to convince the education centre’s resident puffadder shysharks to eat their food. With a family that has earned – and continues to earn – its income almost entirely from the sea, Claire has a vested interest in the conservation of the oceans for current and future generations. She believes that she is in exactly the right place to be able to contribute to this.
Researcher in residence
Read about Lauren and what she does on her project page.