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Marine Apex Predator Research Unit

New article by MAPRU's post doc, Dr Alistair McInnes, used cameras placed on the back of African penguins to show how these penguins herd prey such as anchovy and sardines into shallower more accessible depths for other flying seabirds. 
A new MAPRU article, authored by both past and present MAPRU members, used 101 boat surveys including 533 hours of survey effort to study the social bonds between Indian Ocean humpback dolphins along the south coast of South Africa.

MAPRU's post-doc Dr Andréa Thiebault, has used miniaturized audio-recording devices to study the vocalizations between Cape gannets at sea.

Article published resulting from PhD exchange between MAPRU and Southampton University.

MAPRU postdoc Andréa Thiebault was officially awarded a prize for her PhD from the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I Prince of Monaco foundation, during a ceremony held on the 12th of October. Her PhD titled "Come onboard with Cape gannets: social influences in foraging strategies, observed from videos", was undertaken at the French IRD, UMR MARBEC, Université Montpellier II.

MAPRU's Dr Ryan Reisinger along with a multinational research team used data from 538 tags deployments on 14 species of marine predators breeding at the South African owned Prince Edward Islands in the sub-Antarctic to identify important habitat. The article was published in Diversity and Distributions and helps to form the basis of future efforts to predict the consequences of environmental change.



A MAPRU post-doc, Andréa Thiebault, has published a new package for the statistical computing R software. "m2b" for Movement to Behaviour, an easy way to apply complicated mathematical algorithm for scientists to predict behaviour from animal's movements.

An article published in Nature Climate Change by MAPRU head, Dr Pierre Pistorius and others, found it likely that king penguins are to become locally extinct from a number of sub-Antarctic islands, including South African owned Marion Island. Dr Pierre Pistorius was interviewed by local and national newspapers about the findings.

In an article recently publish in Royal Society Open Science, MAPRU post-doc Alistair McInnes showed that African penguins have signifcantly more success capturing prey when hunting in groups.

See article here: 


MAPRU PhD student, Jonathan Botha, publishes work on Cape Gannets in Algoa Bay in Marine Ecology Process Series. 

Using a combination stomach content data and stable isotope analysis, Dicken et al. (2017) provide information on size-based and sex-specific variations in diet, trophic position and foraging habitat of tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Article can be viewed here . pone.0177897

Dr Lorien Pichegru of NMU's Marine Apex Predator Unit will be presenting a public talk entitled "Advancing marine science tourism" in building 35 room 0004, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth on 1 August 2017 at 13:00. All are welcome, please RSVP by 25 July 2017 to or (041) 504 2852

Marine Apex Predator Research Unit member, Danielle van den Heever, was recently interviewed by local news papers about her efforts to conserve the 'ghost' birds in the tropics. 

The article can be found at the following link:

She is researching the foraging ecology of the wedge-tailed shearwater, or locally known as "ghost' birds, that breed on islands within the Indian Ocean. Her effort will ultimately help improve the conservation efforts of these birds.

A new paper by MAPRU members, Tegan Carpenter-Kling, Jonathan Handley, Ryan Reisinger, David Green and Pierre Pistorius was recently published in Marine Biology. The research formed part of Tegan's MSc thesis and it is the first to describe the foraging behaviour and gentoo penguins at Marion Island using small GPS data loggers and depth sensor. It also describes a novel foraging strategy for seabirds.

The article can be found at the following link:



Jonathan Handley and Pierre Pistorius's paper in Polar Biology describes the first record of a penguin trying to steal food from another penguin underwater.

Dr Ryan Reisinger of NMMU's Marine Apex Predator Unit will be presenting a pulic talk entitled "Cold killers, and other finned and flying beasts of the far south" at Bayworld / Port Elizabeth Museum on 29 March 2016.