One of the MANDELA UNIVERSITY distinctive research themes is Ocean and Coastal Sciences, and our Ocean Sciences Campus, the first of its kind in Africa, was launched in September 2017. As a means of advancing the scientific contribution to the oceans economy, Nelson Mandela University is working closely with an array of national and international partners. As part of its strategy to develop a whole new range of maritime and marine education and training, research, innovation and engagement programmes to support Africa’s blue economy it is working with a wide range of other universities, big business and conservation groups.
Several projects highlight the Ocean Sciences support of the SDGs, including:
Novel Research on Seamounts for MADRidge Project
The seamounts around Madagascar are marine biodiversity hotspots and yet very little was known about them, putting them at great risk of damaging exploitation. A major research project called MADRidge, completed in 2019/20, focused on three submarine seamounts around Madagascar in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) to begin to understand these biodiversity hotspots.
Marine Robotics Unit
The Marine Robotics Unit (MRU) was launched at Nelson Mandela University in 2019 during the international IIOE2 conference. The MRU’s engineering team, headed by Akshay Lakhani, has designed an ocean glider that features novel technologies, to be built by the end of 2020. The team is also building an ocean drone to replace the use of an inshore research vessel. The drone carries sensors that are dipped into the sea to measure water temperature, salinity and fluorescence. It is also used to calibrate satellite data. This machine can cover 100km at sea, hover and collect the same information as the ocean glider. The Chair recently received a UVP photo-imaging camera from the French partners that gives real time marine data in pictures. These innovations will markedly expand the research capabilities of the Ocean Sciences department.