Ford Ranger Fuels Marine Research Breakthroughs With Sea Search

Ford Ranger Fuels Marine Research Breakthroughs with Sea Search

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Game-Changer for Oceanic Studies: FWF and the Ford Ranger Drive Innovation in Marine Research PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 May 2024 – The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) proudly supports Sea Search Research and Conservation (SSRC) NPC, a premier marine research organization established in 2014 by Dr. Simon Elwen and Dr. Tess Gridley. With the versatile Ford…

Ford Ranger Fuels Marine Research Breakthroughs With Sea Search

Game-Changer for Oceanic Studies: FWF and the Ford Ranger Drive Innovation in Marine Research

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 May 2024 – The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) proudly supports Sea Search Research and Conservation (SSRC) NPC, a premier marine research organization established in 2014 by Dr. Simon Elwen and Dr. Tess Gridley. With the versatile Ford Ranger provided by FWF, Sea Search has achieved significant advancements in marine research and conservation across Southern Africa.

Project Overview
Sea Search Research and Conservation specializes in high-quality, internationally recognized scientific research and student training in marine biology. By collaborating with industry and government, Sea Search promotes conservation through effective management. “Our mission is to provide crucial scientific insights that can inform conservation policies and practices,” says Dr. Simon Elwen, co-founder of Sea Search. “The support from the Ford Wildlife Foundation and the reliability of the Ford Ranger have been pivotal in our research efforts.”

Their current research spans from Mozambique to Namibia, making SSRC one of the leading marine mammal research organizations in Southern Africa. With over 80 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 40 years of cumulative experience, SSRC contributes to numerous conservation initiatives, including IUCN Red List Assessments, the International Whaling Commission, Marine Spatial Planning, and the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE).

Key Research Projects
Cape Fur Seal Health

Sea Search focuses on the health of Cape fur seals, South Africa’s most abundant marine mammals. These seals form large colonies that often overlap with endangered seabird colonies, posing risks of disease transfer. Little is known about the diseases affecting seals or their potential cross-species transmission. The Ford Ranger enables the Sea Search team to coordinate data collection across multiple sites, working with local and national governments, academia, and international veterinarians.

Killer Whale Distribution
Studying killer whales around South Africa is challenging due to their elusive nature. SSRC relies on citizen science sightings and photographs to understand their distribution. They use the Ford Ranger Double Cab 4×4 to tow boats to sighting locations, allowing for fast-response research efforts. This initiative aims to collect detailed behavioral, photographic, acoustic, and genetic data, and ultimately attach satellite tags to track their movements.

Stellenbosch MSc student Lindiwe Makapela studies the impact of fishing practices on killer whales, while PhD student Aaron Barnes investigates population linkages between killer whales around South Africa and broader regions, including Marion Island and the French Crozet and Kerguelen Islands.

Vehicle Performance
The Ford Ranger has proven indispensable for Sea Search’s demanding fieldwork, reliably transporting equipment, personnel, and vessels across challenging terrains. “The FWF Ford Ranger is an essential part of our research toolkit,” says Dr. Elwen. “We regularly pack the Ranger to the gills with people, field kits, and research equipment, hitch up our boat, and head off into the field. The ability to reliably and safely tow the boat and move people and equipment to field research sites hundreds of kilometers from home without worrying about breakdowns or space is a real relief to us.”

Lynda Du Plessis, manager of the Ford Wildlife Foundation, adds, “The Ford Wildlife Foundation is committed to supporting organizations like Sea Search that work tirelessly to protect and preserve marine biodiversity. We are proud to provide the tools and resources necessary for their groundbreaking research and conservation efforts.”

Commitment to Conservation
For over 30 years, Ford South Africa has actively participated in wildlife and ecosystem conservation efforts across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 2014, the Ford Wildlife Foundation currently supports 28 projects, including 17 conservation projects, seven research projects, and five environmental education projects. For more information on the Ford Wildlife Foundation and its supported conservation projects, please visit Ford Wildlife Foundation.

This revised article highlights the collaboration between FWF and Sea Search, emphasizing the significant contributions of the Ford Ranger to marine research and conservation efforts.


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