Diver Development and Research Course

April 2, 2020
False Bay, South Africa
Closing date


Course Description:
Cape RADD is a marine field station that serves as a platform for researchers in the Cape Town and False Bay area. We specialise in long-term projects that serve to monitor the biodiversity of a global hotspot with more than 3500 endemic marine species.

Our research includes assessing the success of different management strategies in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), monitoring the diversity and abundance of marine species, white shark population estimates, shark deterrent strategies, and some large-scale citizen science programs.

Our research utilises various techniques including Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV), SCUBA roving divers, line transects, quadrats and dropcams, mark-recapture, and other novel techniques. At the core of our values is passing on our expertise to early career scientists at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Cape RADD facilitates SCUBA and freediving training courses for individuals who want to learn more about the marine environment, conservation and research through hands on field experience and diver development. Our courses include training in multiple data collection and field operation techniques, and theoretical workshops and presentations from field biologists and dive experts.

The Cape RADD Field Course is structured around several research projects that we run or collaborate on, whereby we use them as tools to teach practical and theoretical skills while allowing students to actively participate in the research.

There is a two week and a four week option. We run the course year round, from the beginning of each month. Some projects are general long term monitoring projects, while others aim to answer specific questions, such as the impact of grazer density on kelp abundance, the effect of cleaning regimens on tidal pool life, shark behaviour or fish schooling behavior, to name a few. These projects also change throughout the year as new questions are developed, or seasonal projects end, but the core material is always the same.

Where are we?
The Cape RADD headquarters are situated in cozy Simon’s Town, False Bay; nestled in an area of spectacular beauty that features stunning beaches, incredible marine life, and a mountainous backdrop – just 40 km from Cape Town’s city centre.
False Bay is one of the most varied and diverse areas in the world for marine life and plays host to an abundance of species large and small, from an eclectic array of colourful nudibranchs, sponges and sea anemonies to mega-fauna species including the humpback whale, seven gill sharks and of course the iconic white shark. Known as the Kruger of the seas, False Bay offers superb dive sites and a mixture of marine habitats from rocky reef, soft corals and wreck diving to kelp forests and off shore blue water diving.

Course subjects and modules:

  • Dive orientation - Introduction to Cape waters, Dive planning, Dive safety
  • Citizen science programs and the importance of public engagement
  • Introduction to scientific diving (Physics of diving, benthic surveying techniques, local fish identification, BRUVS, macroinvertebrate identification, fish surveying techniques)
  • Kelp ecology
  • Introduction to Freediving workshop
  • Individual project protocol and dive objectives with experimental design
  • Measuring biodiversity in the marine environment
  • Data input and analysis
  • Introduction workshop to R and GIS and movement ecology exercises

Field Course Learning outcomes:

  • Be able to manipulate a range of basic and advanced underwater surveying tools including compasses, transect lines, fish survey T-bars, BRUVs and underwater photographic equipment; and employ these in carrying out various underwater surveying techniques.
  • Gain fundamental knowledge in research methodologies necessary to conduct scientific investigations in temperate marine environments and particularly for the study of rocky reef and kelp forest ecosystems.
  • Be able to maintain and prepare individual SCUBA diving kit and underwater surveying equipment for safe and effective data collection in the field from both shore and boat dives.
  • Be proficient in the underwater identification of Southern African teleosts, elasmobranchs, algae and major invertebrate groups.
  • Learn marine centric analytical methods in R and GIS mapping.
  • Be fluent in accessing relevant literature for the preparation of group reports and presentation.

Must be able to swim, be Open Water qualified diver and have SCUBA dive insurance.

How to apply:
Please send a copy of your CV and little bit of info about any previous research and diving interests or experience to info@caperadd.com. The CV is so that we can cater the course material to your needs and interest where possible. The courses fill on a first come first serve basis. We keep our course groups small to allow higher quality of training (<8 students) and we will reserve you a seat with a 50% deposit and then ask that the remainder be paid 30 days prior to your course start date.

Follow our adventure on Facebook and Instagram @CapeRADD

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