South African research in the Southern Ocean: New opportunities but serious challenges

  • Anne M. Treasure Department of Oceanography and Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Coleen L. Moloney Zoology Department and Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Marthán N. Bester Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Christopher D. McQuaid Southern Ocean Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  • Ken P. Findlay Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Peter B. Best Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Don A. Cowan Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • P. J. Nico de Bruyn Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Rosemary A. Dorrington Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  • Ake Fagereng Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • P. William Froneman Southern Ocean Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  • Geoff H. Grantham Council for Geoscience, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Brian P. V. Hunt Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada
  • K. Ian Meiklejohn Department of Geography, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  • Evgeny A. Pakhomov Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada
  • Alakendra N. Roychoudhury Department of Earth Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Peter G. Ryan Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Valdon R. Smith Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Steven L. Chown Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Isabelle J. Ansorge J. Ansorge Department of Oceanography and Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Keywords: Southern Ocean, research, NRF, DST, SANAP

Abstract

South Africa has a long track record in Southern Ocean and Antarctic research and has recently invested considerable funds in acquiring new infrastructure for ongoing support of this research. This infrastructure includes a new base at Marion Island and a purpose-built ice capable research vessel, which greatly expand research opportunities. Despite this investment, South Africa’s standing as a participant in this critical field is threatened by confusion, lack of funding, lack of consultation and lack of transparency. The research endeavour is presently bedevilled by political manoeuvring among groups with divergent interests that too often have little to do with science, while past and present contributors of research are excluded from discussions that aim to formulate research strategy. This state of affairs is detrimental to the country’s aims of developing a leadership role in climate change and Antarctic research and squanders both financial and human capital.

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Published
2013-03-26