Ocean News

Dr Leonard Compagno wins Prestigious Award!

6th August 2008

A few weeks ago the 13th Southern Africa Marine Science Symposium was hosted by SANCOR (South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research) at the University of Cape Town.

The most exciting news is that Dr. Leonard Compagno, the SOSSC’s Chief Scientist, has won the prestigious 2008 Gilchrist Memorial Medal. Dr. Compagno’s scientific achievements have been broadly recognised all around the world and the volume of publications he has produced is probably the most extensive in elasmobranch literature – with over 500 publications to date. He has described new taxa of cartilaginous fishes which include six family-group taxa, 27 new species, one new genus and five new species of southern African sharks, rays and chimeras. The 2008 Gilchrist Medal has been awarded to Dr. Compagno in recognition of his dedication and significant contribution to marine science in Southern Africa.

Well done Leonard from all of us at the Save Our Seas Shark Centre!

Alison Kock, SOSSC marine biologist also presented her exciting work on the seasonal behaviour of great white sharks in False Bay, which was well attended and received by the scientific audience. Thanks go to the National Research Foundation (NRF) and Prof. Charles Griffiths for funding Alison’s conference attendance. Out of 211 presentations only 8 had a shark theme, which goes to show that there is a long way to go to raise the profile of shark research in South Africa.

Other interesting talks were on the value of tiger shark diving tourism to the country by Matt Dicken which demonstrated that a live tiger shark is worth exponentially more than a dead one, and Malcolm Smale’s talk on the Save Our Seas Foundation M-Sea Programme’s satellite tagging and releasing of captive ragged tooth sharks, as well as the tagging of wild sharks – this project was initiated by me with the release of Maxine in 2004. MCM’s Charlene da Silva also gave a talk on demersal shark fisheries and when asked about the state of some of our demersal sharks, and the future of this fishery she said that a lot has to come together for this shark fishery to be sustainable, including adequate management and enforcement.

We hope that by 2011 when the next symposium is held that we will see many more shark talks – there really wasn’t enough!

Watch this space!

Lesley Rochat
Manager, Save Our Seas Shark Centre