Mission: Pondoland Marine Protected Area Aerial Survey
Date:
20 October, 15 November 2009 and 17 December 2009
Requesting organisation: Bruce Mann (Oceanographic Research Institute) and Jan Venter (Eastern Cape Parks Board)
Location: Pondoland Marine Protected Area
Pilots: Barry de Groot, William O’Driscoll and Steve McCurrach

During the last quarter of 2009 The Bateleurs flew three aerial surveys of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area (MPA) for the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), one on 20th October (flown by Barry de Groot), a second on 11th November (fown by William O’Driscoll), and the third and final survey on 12th December (flown by Steve McCurrrach). Please find below reports of the second and third missions, prepared by Bruce Mann.

Report for the second mission from the beneficiary, by Bruce Mann of Oceanographic Research Institute

Thanks to William O’Driscoll for a superb flight early on Sunday morning (15 November). The weather forecast looked a bit gloomy but it turned out to be a perfect day for flying and we had the skies virtually to ourselves.

The mission was successfully accomplished and we counted a total of 80 shore anglers and 116 invertebrate collectors on the rocks between the Mzamba River (just south of the Wild Coast Casino) and the Umzimvubu River at Port St Johns. This information will be used to develop a Geographical Information System (GIS) to help inform the improved management of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area. Interestingly the count of collectors was very similar to the first count done with Barry de Groot on the 20 October (111 collectors) suggesting that it may be the same people involved. A third count will help provide greater confidence in this assumption.

As always it is a real privilege to be able to fly along such a magnificent stretch of coastline and we are extremely grateful to The Bateleurs for assisting us with this important project. The tea and muffins shared near the runway on Mount Thesigar at Port St Johns was an added bonus and it was great to share the experience with Dave and colleagues in a second aircraft which joined us for the sortie.

The objective was certainly met and we look forward to conducting a third flight with Bateleurs in December 2009.

PON_Steve_at_work

Report  for the third mission from the beneficiary by Bruce Mann of Oceanographic Research Institute

Thanks to Steve McCurrach for an amazing flight in his Rainbow Cheetah on Thursday the 17 December. After a long period of rain and overcast skies, the weather on Thursday was near perfect with clear blue skies and a light north-easterly wind. The countryside looked magnificent after all the rain and the visibility was excellent. After taking off at Camperdown (Mertles) at 08h30 we stopped in at Port Edward (Microlight Club) for a quick breakfast and a much needed cup of coffee. We were back in the air again by 10h00 and ready to start our count at Mzamba River (start of the Pondoland MPA) exactly at spring low tide (10h07). The mission was successfully accomplished and we counted a total of 52 shore anglers and 129 invertebrate collectors on the rocks between the Mzamba River and the Umzimvubu River at Port St Johns. There were less shore anglers than our previous counts despite it being peak holiday season as by now the north-easterly had freshened and was blowing at 20-25 knots. The number of invertebrate collectors was again remarkably similar to the previous two counts thus suggesting that it is much the same group of people coming down to collect invertebrates each spring tide.

PON_Washing_down_the_Cheetah

The information collected during these surveys will be used to develop a Geographical Information System (GIS) to help inform the improved management of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area. As always it was a real privilege to be able to fly along such a magnificent stretch of coastline and we are extremely grateful to the Bateleurs for assisting us with this important project.

The objective was certainly met and with the help of a slow, manoeuvrable aircraft and an excellent pilot, an accurate count of shore collectors was obtained.