Dyer Island, managed by CapeNature, is classified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (SA 120) and recognised as such by BirdLife International. More information on conservation issues affecting Dyer Island is available BirdLife South Africa.
The area around Dyer Island and Kleinbaai is seen as one of the prime eco-tourism destinations along the South African coast and exposes visitors to the Southern Right Whale, the iconic Great White Shark, the Cape Fur Seal, the endangered African Penguin and various dolphin species. It is normally not possible to visit Dyer Island, but many spectacular birds can be seen from the boats of the whale-watching and shark-diving operators working in the area.
The area around Kleinbaai and Dyer Island is hugely underrated as a top birding destination. Besides the African Penguin, endemic species associated with the Benguela current include the Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants, Cape Gannet and African Oystercatcher. Breeding records on Dyer Island also include species such as the Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Roseate Tern and small numbers of Caspian Terns, together with large numbers of Swift Terns. The Common and Sandwich Terns are abundant in summer with fair numbers of Antarctic Terns being present in winter. The Arctic Tern also passes through seasonally on their epic migratory journey to the southern oceans.
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) in conjunction with its tourism partners Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises manages a variety of conservation and community development projects, too many to describe in detail. The Faces of Need projects with the African Penguin and the Great White Shark as focal points are well-established and world-renowned – many international conservation and tourism awards illustrate this. Shark research includes shark fin identification and tagging and tracking of this critically endangered species. The Fishing Line Recovery and Recycling Program (FLRRP) along the Gansbaai shoreline, with specially designed disposal bins has been hugely successful. This innovative project aims to reduce the severe environmental damage caused by discarded fishing line along our coastline.
Dyer Island Cruises, together with The Marine Big Five™, offer whale watching on the custom-designed Dream Catcher during Southern Right Whale season between June and December. Stops along the cruise include a visit to the shark cage diving vessels to view Great White Sharks. One can also be lucky to view different Dolphin species playing in the bay. Other visiting whale species that are observed on occasions are the Bryde’s Whale and the Humpback Whale. The highlight of these outings is certainly the visit to Dyer Island where the penguins and seals are studied from the vessel. The on board biologist and experienced crew further enhance an educational and life-changing experience.
With Marine Dynamics visitors experience an incredible shark cage diving adventure on board the custom-designed boat, Slashfin, (named after one of the visiting sharks). This is a world hot spot for the Great White Shark viewing and an onboard marine biologist educates clients as they get up close and personal with this amazing apex predator. After these outings guests return to The Great White House for warm soup and to warm up in front of a cosy fire during winter or in summer to enjoy the warm sun. A debriefing follows and the trip footage can be bought. A visit to the newly built African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) before or after these excursions is recommended strongly. The Great White House accommodation in Kleinbaai is all about comfort and simplicity. Fitted with beautiful rustic hardwood floors, a fireplace for those cold winter nights and open-plan living the chalets offer a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. The three stylish fisherman cottages are in close proximity of the Great White House Restaurant; open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Great White House will cater to all your needs, providing superior service and peaceful accommodation.
The APSS is however the prize feather in the Trust’s already impressive cap. A custom-designed, world-class, marine bird rehabilitation centre, the APSS provides temporary rehabilitative care to displaced, injured, oiled and abandoned marine birds, with a special focus on the endangered African Penguin. Featuring a unique rehabilitation area with a specialised floor, laboratory and clinic, the APSS rehabilitation techniques were honed to afford birds individual treatment with minimum stress. This maximises their rehabilitation and affords them the best chance of survival when released back into the wild. Through continued research, education and awareness programmes, the APSS, aims to mitigate the human impact on marine bird colonies.
To this should be added that Kleinbaai is in close proximity to other top birding destinations of the Overstrand such as Witkrans, Platbos, the Uilenkraals Estuary, the Danger Point peninsula, Hermanus and many more. It therefore serves as a perfect base from which to explore the birding delights of surrounding areas. Visiting birders can expect wonderful birding experiences while being exposed to whale watching and shark cage diving. Reservations with Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics ensure that ‘Your choice makes a difference’ and contributes towards fulfilling the DICT’s dream to ‘Discover and Protect’.
The Kleinbaai area further represents one of the many sites along the Cape Whale Coast shoreline where the adverse impact of plastics, fishing line and other pollutants on our environment in general and our coastal birds in particular often seem obvious. Birds are regularly severely injured through entanglement with various forms of ocean litter and the negative visual impact of the litter could have detrimental impacts on tourism to the region.
The members of BirdLife Overberg recently launched the CleanMarine campaign that features various projects such as regular monthly coastal clean-ups, the erection of bins to collect discarded fishing line and warning placards to inform the public about the presence of African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers breeding, or raising their chicks along our beaches and rocky shores.
Please report all injured or oiled coastal birds and animals to the Cape Whale Coast stranding network at 072 598 7117 immediately. This dedicated service is provided by the APSS of the DICT in Kleinbaai.