College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

From left: Mr Gan Moodley, Dr Gyda Christophersen and Dr Jan Sunde of Norway, Professor Ahmed Thandar, Dr Moses Okpeku, Ms Cassandra Upton, Mr Jethro Broughton, Ms Jahnavi Persadh, and Ms Neyaksha Maharaj at the Sea Cucumber Aquaculture Symposium in Durban

UKZN Marine Biologist Participates in Bilateral South Africa-Norway Conference and Sea Cucumber Symposium

Mr Gan Moodley of the Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education and Ecophysiology Laboratory (MACE Lab) at UKZN was one of two Principal Investigators (PIs) invited to participate in a conference on board the Norwegian tallship ‘Staatsraad Lehmkuhl’ during its docking in Cape Town as part of the South Africa/Norway Joint Research Programme on Ocean Research (SANOCEAN).

Moodley joined Dr Gyda Christophersen from the Møreforsking “aksjeselskap” or AS, a research institute in Norway, to deliver a seminar, and joined several other experts on a panel for a project that forms part of SANOCEAN and focuses on “Emerging species for sea cucumber aquaculture”.

The seminar culminated in a reception hosted by the Research Council of Norway for all PIs of South Africa-Norway bilateral projects, postgraduate students, government officials, representatives of non-governmental organisations, and representatives of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), among others.

The tallship was on its global voyage, the One Ocean Expedition, which aimed to create awareness of and share knowledge about the role of the ocean in sustainable development from a global perspective. The expedition is recognised as part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

While in Cape Town, the South Africa-Norway research team, including Dr Dale Arendse of the DFFE, visited the research aquarium and discussed research issues with personnel in aquaculture farms and facilities in Saldanha Bay, Paternoster, and Jacobsbaai.

Following the conference, Moodley organised and hosted a Sea Cucumber Aquaculture symposium in Durban, which was attended by the two Norwegian research collaborators, UKZN staff and postgraduate students in the MACE Lab in the School of Life Sciences (SLS).

Included in the programme was Emeritus Professor Ahmed Thandar in the SLS who spoke on Some Commercially Important Sea Cucumbers and Their Relative Scarcity in the Shallow Waters of South Africa. Moodley presented a talk entitled: South African Contributions to the SANOCEAN “Emergent Species for Sea Cucumber Aquaculture” Project.

Thandar, who is recognised as the only established sea cucumber taxonomy/systematics specialist in South Africa, said he was honoured and delighted to be invited to give a presentation.

‘I was impressed by the Norwegian-South African bilateral initiative led by (Moodley) and his Norwegian team to study aquaculture techniques in sea cucumbers; he and his fellow researchers must be congratulated for their efforts to date and for the organisation of this symposium,’ said Thandar.

Christophersen’s address at the symposium involved Spawning and Larval Development in Sea Cucumbers while Dr Jan Sunde spoke on Feeding and Growth in Captivity/ Fishing and Legislation in Sea Cucumbers. Postgraduate students in MACE Lab also delivered presentations based on their research.

Thandar complimented the MACE Lab’s postgraduate students for their insightful contributions to the biology of what he called a neglected group of echinoderms.

‘I was much impressed by the quality of the presentations and the dedication of the presenters and learned a lot about various aspects of the biology of this group, especially aspects of their feeding, biochemistry, and reproductive biology, and hope this initiative will continue well into the future,’ said Thandar.

‘The symposium was a huge success and provided a great opportunity for South African scientists and postgraduate students to not only showcase their research, but to also discuss matters of mutual interest and challenging research issues with our Norwegian research collaborators,’ said Moodley.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Supplied