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
Wisaal graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Master’s degree in science, specialising in applied marine science. Her subsequent career path took her from WWF South Africa’s Sustainable Seafood Programme (WWF-SASSI) to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where she was involved with strategic environmental assessments in support of national strategic integrated projects that further the country’s development goals. She is passionate about sustainability and how to live in harmony with nature.
Wisaal has a keen interest in projects that contribute to the development of communities. Since 2016 she has been teaching maths and science to high school students at an under-resourced school in Mitchell’s Plain, a suburb of Cape Town. Her aim is to help students to grasp new learning concepts, as well as to contribute to their holistic development as they navigate their life path. The challenge is to make learning fun and relevant to the student, using whatever tools are available.
Wisaal lives with her husband and cat in the seaside suburb of Muizenberg. At weekends they enjoy the beautiful Cape Town outdoors: cycling, gardening, hiking, surfing or having a braai (barbecue) at home.
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.