Research projects at Cape RADD are the product of varied interests and objectives. As such, the specifics of what we’re working on may change as projects are completed and new questions are raised. We have several on-going, long-term projects that will always contribute to our monitoring of the ocean ecosystem. In addition to these we also dedicate time to short-term projects and will do our best to maintain a description of our current research goals here.


Impact of cleaning regimes on species richness of tidal pools in False Bay

Health and safety necessitates that tidal pools periodically be cleaned to remove slipping hazards and other sources of potential injury. Several methods have been used including chemical based, solutions, physical removal, and whitewashing. No studies have yet assessed the impact of these cleaning methods on the life found in the tidal pools. This collaboration with researchers from the Department of Environmental Affairs and students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology aims to assess the impact of cleaning methods on the species richness found in the pools.

Fish shoaling behaviour in Kelp forests

Cape RADD are assisting with data collection for this fascinating fish behaviour study in collaboration with Alicia Burns, Behavioural biologist at Taronga Conservation Society Australia.  This project intends to examine the patterns of interactions between individuals in both single-species and mixed-species shoals, particularly in relation to group cohesion, group order (or polarisation), and transfer entropy.

Influence of grazer density on kelp abundance

Urchin populations are expanding in some parts of the world and negatively impacting the abundance of kelp by overgrazing. This project aims to determine if there is potential for this phenomenon to occur in South Africa.

Success of Marine Protected Areas in South Africa

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of the sea which restrict human activity for the purpose of protecting natural and cultural resources. This project aims to determine the success of different MPA management strategies by monitoring abundance and diversity within “no-take”, controlled, and unprotected areas using standardised transect methods.

Influence of bait on Remote Underwater Visual surveys

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) is a non-invasive technique for monitoring species abundance and diversity. The use of bait in this process serves to attract individuals for sampling but can introduce a bias in which species are attracted. Recent findings show that the use of bait can reveal cryptic species that wouldn’t otherwise be visible, but can also attract species from outside of the target habitat-type. This project aims to quantify differences in species composition and abundance when using different types of bait.

  • Does the use of bait influence the composition of species identified during a survey?
  • Do different types of bait influence the composition of species identified during a survey?


Fish, algae and invertebrate monitoring programme

This project uses a standardised roving diver technique to record the presence and number of species encountered during a dive. This long-term monitoring project aims to monitor biodiversity and abundance on the temperate reef systems of South Africa.

Impact of diving ecotourism on reef health

Diving ecotourism is a valuable tool for creating awareness and revenue for the marine ecosystem. Divers are taught to respect the ocean environment and minimise disturbances to ocean life, however incidental contact can and does occur. This project aims to quantify the impact of recreational diving on reef health and assess the efficacy of pre-dive briefing strategies.

Kelp forest and reef plant density and distribution

This project aims to monitor kelp forest and reef coverage within South Africa by maintaining a GIS database of density and distribution along the shores of South Africa. Methods include in-situ mapping and remote sensing from LANDSAT imagery.


ELMO is a South African citizen science initiative that collects long-term information on shark and ray distribution by maintaining a database of shark and egg case, or “mermaid’s purse”, sightings. The project has several aims and objectives:

  • To provide long-term data on Southern African Elasmobranchs (and Chimaera)
  • To encourage open data sharing and communication between organisations with similar interests
  • To supply free and comprehensive educational material
  • To celebrate Southern Africa’s Chondrichthyan diversity
  • To direct public attention towards endemic Elasmobranchs
  • To promote respectful interactions with the marine environment

Echinoderms (starfish, sea-urchins, brittle-stars and their kin) are conspicuous and attractive marine animals, frequently photographed by divers. Although many can be identified from photographs, no comprehensive guide to South African species exists, making it difficult to accurately identify images. The fauna is also poorly know, making it very likely that divers will encounter species new to the region, or even to science.


This project aims to collate all available images of echinoderms from South Africa, thus building up a comprehensive identification guide, as well as mapping the ranges of each species. Images of all South African echinoderms are welcomed and all contribute equally towards a better understanding of the distribution patterns of these fascinating creatures.

Participate in these projects and more by signing up for our field course!