Marine Education and Learning Projects

Powerful, interactive and effective education campaigns
The SANCCOB centres in both Port Elizabeth and Cape Town offer a variety of education and learning projects in close proximity to the endangered African penguin and Cape gannet colonies.
Led by a team of experienced and dedicated staff, our Education Projects drive home a clear message: that the oceans can become a better place if we just slightly change our own habits. For instance by choosing to buy products packaged in glass bottles or tin cans instead of plastic, or by saying ‘no’ to a straw with your drink. We also encourage people to think twice about what fish to choose on a restaurant menu or when making a purchase from the market. Whichever way, we show how people can become part of the solution. Our team is inspired to take action, and is often also involved with sustainable living on a personal level.


Request for support

The Marine Education and Learning Projects need support to spur young people (mostly learners and their educators) into action. This requires funding for interactive workshops with over 110 schools. The introduction to this workshop is held at the schools, and often followed by an organised visit to the SANCCOB centre. CLICK HERE to donate to the Marine Education and Learning Projects’, and select on the dropdown menu under ‘where your donation should be used’ ‘Saving seabirds from plastic pollution’.



Location of SANCCOB projects and programmes: SANCCOB Western Cape and SANCCOB Eastern Cape centres are based in respectively Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The Western Cape centre is close two important mainland breeding colonies – Stony Point in Betty’s Bay and Boulders in Simon’s Town, as well as South Africa’s largest coastal island with a penguin population Robben Island (the island was declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in April 2019). The SANCCOB Eastern Cape centre is in close proximity to the endangered African penguin and Cape gannet colonies at Bird and St Croix islands in Algoa Bay, and both these islands fall within the recently declared Addo Elephant National Park MPA. Approximately half of South Africa’s population of African penguins is found here.


SANCCOB and BirdLife South Africa launch review proceedings against DFFE

SANCCOB, together with BirdLife South Africa (BLSA), have taken a bold and crucial step to legally challenge the decision taken by the office of the Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

read more
SANCCOB's Chick Rearing Unit in Cape Town is approaching full capacity.

At the moment, we have 101 African penguin eggs being kept warm and safe in our incubators and 70 chicks and hatchlings in our Chick-Rearing Unit (CRU).

read more
Braveheart rages against the dying of the light

An ode to poet, Dylan Thomas, if ever there was one. AP447 was rescued from Stony Point. She came to SANCCOB on the 18th of July with a serious abdominal injury which had tragically, severed her breast muscle.

read more
SANCCOB's 2022-2023 Integrated Report

Thank you to all who have contributed to the success of our conservation initiatives at SANCCOB

read more
African Penguins are starving - AP594. A beautiful “Blue”, admitted to SANCCOB, Cape Town 02 October

The mournful clamour of starvation that eminates from within his almost skeletal body, portrays the harsh reality being faced by many African penguins at present. He is starving.

read more
Share The Love With 2-for-1 Penguin Adoptions This Valentines Month

Have you adopted your penguin yet? There is still time to get your 2-for-1 Valentine's penguin adoptions, offered until 28 February because we are doubling the penguin love for the entire month.

read more
You can save the African penguin

With populations plummeting, we believe everything possible needs to be done to prevent the species from going functionally extinct on the West Coast of South Africa in 10 to 15 years, as indicated by scientists.

read more
20 year Commemoration of MV Treasure Oil Spill

2020 marks the 20th year passed since the MV Treasure sank off the coast of Cape Town, between Dassen & Robben islands, resulting in a major spill of bunker oil into the ocean.

read more
79 African penguin chicks rescued from Bird Island need your help!

You may have heard that our PE centre staff and volunteers have their hands full these days with 79 African penguin chicks rescued from Bird Island.

read more
#WorldRangerDay! We salute you all!

In celebrating World Ranger Day, we honour those who are out in the field, protecting our natural treasures and cultural heritage, tirelessly dedicating their skills and time on a daily basis.

read more
SANCCOB appoints new CEO

SANCCOB has a new Chief Executive Officer! The Board of Directors has appointed Natalie Maskell to lead SANCCOB and with nine years as Chief Operating Officer and Business Manager at SANCCOB......

read more
New Visitor Centre for SANCCOB Cape Town

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our newest fundraising campaign to build a Visitor Centre at the SANCCOB Cape Town centre.

read more
Oiled Wildlife Preparedness and Response Programme

Disaster mitigation and policy development

SANCCOB’s Oiled Wildlife and Preparedness Response Programme works with various stakeholders to ensure that both the oil industry and government authorities take the appropriate preparedness action to mitigate the increased risk of oil spills off the South African coastline. SANCCOB’s Oiled Wildlife and Preparedness Response Manager, Nicky Stander, ensures that appropriate risk assessments are carried out; that contingency plans are in place; and that there is regular engagement with all stakeholders, such as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), and seabird colony management authorities.


Offshore ship-to-ship bunkering in Algoa Bay

One of the largest threats currently facing seabirds in South Africa is offshore ship-to-ship bunkering operations that have been permitted in Algoa Bay since 2016. As Algoa Bay is a well-positioned stop-over route (positioned a few miles from the busy shipping lanes and East-West routes) and offshore bunkering is cheaper than in port bunkering, oil tankers and commercial vessels prefer this method of refuelling.  This is a major concern as Algoa Bay is an area of high biodiversity value and home to the largest remaining breeding colony of endangered African penguins and Cape gannets.


Request for support

SANCCOB’s Oiled Wildlife and Preparedness Response Programme is in need of support for the remuneration of the manager, who advises on policymaking, engages relevant stakeholders to identify the main issues to be considered in national oiled wildlife response planning, and engages with bunkering companies in Algoa Bay (for instance by testing the oiled wildlife response plan). The programme is also in need of equipment and funds to cover traveling expenses to attend important stakeholder meetings with businesses or fellow partners in Oiled Wildlife Response (when these are not covered by independent foundations). CLICK HERE to donate to the project, and select on the dropdown menu under ‘where your donation should be used’ ‘Preparedness & Response’.


Research Programme

Food availability and disease management
SANCCOB’s Research Programme addresses various issues, including threats that impact the survival of seabirds such as food availability and climate change; the improvement of rehabilitation protocols and procedures; research at a molecular level, which includes the detection of avian influenza in seabirds; and assisting the South African government, relevant conservation authorities and the state veterinary services in the development of a contingency plan for disease outbreaks in seabird colonies.  Our current research activities are focused on understanding penguins’ foraging behavior and survival linked to food availability, as the depletion of pelagic fish stocks is an important reason for the decline of the species. SANCCOB’s novel research and evidence-based interventions, both nationally and internationally, are renowned and result in penguin conservation improvements and policy change.


Request for support

In order to release birds into a conducive environment after they have been rehabilitated at one of the SANCCOB centres, our researchers need your support for the GPS tracking project that attaches GPS trackers to 30 penguins at the Simon’s Town colony, so that we can work out where they are searching for food. Outcomes will directly advise South African government authorities. The research project is led by Dr. Richard Sherley, but requires some funding for our researchers who carry out the work.


CLICK HERE to donate to the Research Programme, and select on the dropdown menu under ‘where your donation should be used’ ‘Research: African penguin and other seabirds’.

SANCCOB’s Penguin and Seabird Rangers

SANCCOB deploys a total of eight conservation staff in colonies that are under the protection of conservation authorities such as the Simon’s Town colony, the Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay, as well as Robben Island and Bird Island (Bird island is situated in Algoa Bay, and is part of the recently proclaimed Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA).

With the most recent appointment of a Penguin and Seabird Ranger on Bird Island, SANCCOB now has a presence in Algoa Bay on two important breeding islands as the ranger will monitor St Croix Island too. Together, these two islands account for over 45% of the total African penguin population in South Africa. Bird Island is also home to South Africa’s largest colony of Cape gannets (also an endangered seabird species).


The SANCCOB Penguin and Seabird Rangers carry out the following:

  • Rescue injured, oiled or abandoned penguins and seabirds
  • Conduct moult counts of African penguins and participate in other seabird censuses
  • Maintains infrastructure, equipment and the natural vegetation at the colonies
  • Assists with monitoring seabirds
  • Data collection and other research activities led by the SANCCOB Research Manager.


SANCCOB’s Penguin and Seabird Rangers initiative is in partnership with various South African nature conservation management authorities, including CapeNature, South African National Parks (SANParks), Robben Island Museum, Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) and the Environmental Management Department, which is part of the City of Cape Town’s Spatial Planning and Environment Directorate.

CLICK HERE to watch a video (courtesy of Artis) on SANCCOB’s on-the-ground penguin conservation efforts offers a glimpse into the work being undertaken every day to save these iconic seabirds.


Request for support:

Our Penguin and Seabird Rangers are in need of funds to cover the cost of vehicle maintenance, fuel and tools such as mobile incubators for abandoned eggs and chicks as well as the coverage of their salaries. Although you contribute to equipment and rangers’ salaries,  you are really contributing to is a future for the iconic and highly endangered African penguin and other seabirds. These birds need protection from everyone to reverse the dwindling numbers and prevent their slide towards extinction. CLICK HERE to donate to the ranger project.

SANCCOB’s Seabird Hospital

SANCCOB’s Seabird Hospital currently receives penguins from all of South Africa’s African penguin breeding colonies. Once admitted, each bird is stabilised by our rehabilitation and veterinary team and given an individual diagnostic and treatment plan. Since the launch of our new Seabird Hospital in 2018, we can now keep the most critical birds in one of our two Intensive Care Units (ICU), where veterinary staff can adjust the temperature according to the different phases of recovery.


If needed, birds undergo surgery in one of two surgical theatres. One theatre is used for cleaning wounds and changing wound dressings, while the other theatre is equipped for more complex surgeries. In case of an oiling incident, the new washing, rinsing and drying bays allow for effective decontamination.


Once strong enough, the birds are rehabilitated outdoors and swim in specially designed pools. Weekly waterproofing and health checks, including blood sampling, are done throughout rehabilitation, which typically takes between 4 and 16 weeks.


Chick Bolstering Project:

There is an urgent need to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned and abandoned eggs and chicks. As part of the Chick Bolstering Project (CBP), SANCCOB incubates and hatches abandoned African penguin eggs and hand-rears the chicks. Once healthy enough, SANCCOB rehabilitation staff release the individually microchipped fledglings into the wild to bolster the population.


SANCCOB’s volunteer programme:
Volunteers are central to all of our programmes, but especially our rehabilitation and Chick Bolstering Project (CBP) where the volunteer complement forms the backbone of our SANCCOB workforce. Hundreds of local and international volunteers donate thousands of hours of their time to save seabirds at the two SANCCOB rehabilitation centres each year. Through our partnership with local and international zoos and aquaria, SANCCOB also welcomes expert staff through our Animal Professional Experience Programme, for instance we relied on the zoos and aquaria’s professionals when SANCCOB admitted hundreds of Lesser Flamingo chicks.


Request for support:

Our request for support for the Seabird Hospital is for items such as medication; equipment such as nebulisers, stainless steel tables and  incubators;  volunteer and staff training; uniforms and protective clothing for staff and volunteers; cleaning detergents as well as health and safety products (such as pest control); electricity, water and refuse costs; veterinary and diagnostic expenses; repairs and maintenance to extend the longevity of equipment in use; repairs and maintenance of the building; transportation of birds from the colonies to the SANCCOB centres and vice versa; as well as staff salaries. CLICK HERE to donate to the Chick-rearing project, and select on the dropdown menu under ‘where your donation should be used’ ‘Chick-Rearing Project’. If you wish to donate to in-kind items, please select ‘Wish List Items’. If you would like to purchase the items yourself, please contact Zainab ( for more information.