Cape Town Pelagics is run on a non-profit basis and we've raised over R115 000 for albatross research and conservation. We're glad that through our pelagics we've been able to play our small role in helping to save albatrosses, not only by direct donations, but also by raising awareness, and providing an opportunity for people to see albatrosses and becoming inspired for conservation. We also take out albatross researchers for free on research trips.
Amanda Kropman Operations Manager
Amanda grew up in Cape Town, spending much time outdoors from a young age with parents who went on exciting outdoor birding and safari adventures in Southern Africa. She gained a further appreciation for natural history taking Zoology and Botany in first year B.Sc. before focusing her studies on Microbiology and Biochemistry. She's also a registered tour guide and combines her knowledge of birding and ecotourism to organise our tours around Cape Town and further afield. She's been the Operations Manager of Cape Town Pelagics for over 8 years and has successfully organised dozens of pelagic trips, quite an achievement in one of the windiest places on earth! Amanda is a keen hiker and cyclist and has represented South Africa in international cycling competitions.
Callan has had a life-long dedication to birds and founded Birding Africa when he was still a university student. Since then, he has led over 100 tours and expeditions to 23 African countries, both for Birding Africa and British and American bird tour companies. Callan has acted as a consultant for the BBC Natural History Unit and has even shown Bill Oddie some of the birds around Cape Town!
Callan has spent much of his life traveling to the remotest parts of Africa in search of birds, with his highlights being finding Congo Peafowl after 17 days on foot and canoe in Africa's largest rainforest, Warsangli Linnets in the Daalloo mountains of Somalia, and rediscovering Namuli Apalis in Mozambique, not seen since it was described to science in 1932. He has co-authored two birding books, including the Southern African Birdfinder, a guide to finding over 1400 species in the southern third of Africa and Madagascar (and was once the youngest person to have seen a landmark 800 species in southern Africa, a few years ago now!). Callan has served on the Birdlife South Africa Council as Chairman of the Cape Bird Club, and chaired the Western Cape Rarities Committee.
Callan is also a research associate of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, where he completed his doctorate on the evolution of African desert birds in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley. Some of his scientific publications are listed here. However, he's also a dedicated natural historian and has a passion for all things natural, including flora & trees, dragonflies, butterflies, mammals, frogs, reptiles, etc!
Dalton Gibbs Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Principal Tour Leader
Dalton Gibbs has long been a key person in the City of Cape Town's Nature Conservation and his various responsibilities have included running Rondevlei Nature Reserve, monitoring critically endangered flora, assessing biodiversity of reserves, monitoring bird breeding colonies and chasing down escaped hippos - which regularly graze on his lawn at night at his home on the edge of Rondevlei Nature Reserve! Dalton leads our tours across South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania, and has been leading Cape Town Pelagics trips for many years. Besides his birding skills, Dalton is a well-rounded naturalist with a deep interest in all aspects of ecology -- and history if you get him started!
Cliff Dorse Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around Cape Town
Cliff is fast developing a reputation as one of the top seabird guides in South Africa and regularly leads our pelagic trips from Cape Town. Cliff works for the City of Cape Town Nature Conservation and has been instrumental in securing new protected areas full of endangered plants and animals. He even found South Africa's first Snowy Egret near one of the reserves where he was working. Cliff is a very well-rounded naturalist and his interests range from amaryllid flora to snakes, and Cliff and his wife Suretha are among a small group of people ever to have found the beautiful Fisk's House Snake. He has birded across Africa and has co-led a Birding Africa tour to Cameroon.
Vincent Ward Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around South Africa
Growing up in Cape Town, Vince started his birding career as a seabird scientist, while obtaining a Bsc in Zoology and Physiology. He lived on several seabird islands, and joined a survey trip to Sub-Antarctic Marion Island. A long time pelagic seabird guide, he has guided more than 100 trips off Cape Town and California. During one of our trips he recorded one of the few sightings of Grey-backed Storm Petrel in South Africa.
Not limited to seabirds, he has a keen interest in the African canaries and serins (especially Cape Siskins), publishing several scientific articles on the group. He is also a keen citizen scientist and highly experienced bird ringer/bander.
While living in California, he extensively birded the Western US and the Rocky Mountains. His travels have included birding in Hawaii, the UK and Eastern Canada. He has lead terrestrial birding trips within the Western Cape, around Southern Africa and to Ethiopia. Vince is a self-confessed twitcher and his Southern African list is fast approaching 850 species.
Seth Musker Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around South Africa
Birding has been a major passion of Seth's since a young age. He has lived in both Namibia and South Africa and has birded widely in these countries as well as in Kenya, India and Ecuador. Seth has been working with Birding Africa for 5 years, initially helping in the office, then guiding around Cape Town, and now leads tours across the whole of South Africa. He also guides for Cape Town Pelagics, and his pelagic experience includes two-and-a-half months of seabird surveys to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Seth loves all natural history and has also studied the Cape flora. He's in the final stages of a master's degree at the University of Cape Town, investigating the evolution of the Succulent Karoo flora.
Nick Fordyce Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around South Africa
Nick grew up in Johannesburg and developed a passion for the natural world after numerous family trips to nature reserves in Mpumulanga and the Kruger National Park. The huge variety of lowveld birds opened his eyes to the wonderful world of birds and this has subsequently resulted in him pursuing a career focused on the conservation of the natural world. Nick completed his undergraduate degree in zoology and ecology at UCT and then did further studies (Honours in Botany and Masters in Environmental Law) also at UCT. Nick is also involved in research on urban raptors with the FitzPatrick Institute.
At the start of 2015 Nick embarked on 6 months of travel through South America and Antarctica where he pursued a number of iconic bird and mammal species. Upon returning to South Africa he joined Birding Africa where he now specialises in pelagic and day trips around Cape Town.
David Swanepoel Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around South Africa
David grew up in Pretoria but lived in Durban for two years (where he was the chair of Birdlife Port Natal) and now resides in Cape Town. Although he has visited the Kruger National Park numerous times as a child (and many more since), he only really started birding around 25 years ago while, as a young geologist, he bought a guide to ID the birds he saw in the field. Birding has since turned into a passion and profession.
When he first moved to Cape Town, he volunteered at the Animal (Avian) Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town where he was involved with bird ringing, as well as African Black Oystercatcher and African Penguin research. He subsequently worked for an environmental consultancy as a contaminated land specialist.
Not only has David travelled and birded widely throughout South Africa, but he has birded in and guided birding trips to Namibia, Botswana and southern Zambia. He is also an enthusiastic bird and wildlife photographer.
Andrew comes from a family passionate about nature and the outdoors, and was brought up with a bird book at his side. What was a passing interest in childhood has grown into an academic career trajectory, with Andrew having completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2013, majoring in Applied Biology and Ecology & Evolution. Andrew's Honours year saw him working on Spotted Hyenas in northern KwaZulu-Natal, before leading a research project for 4 months investigating the importance of birding tourism to national parks around South Africa. In 2015 Andrew began his Masters degree through the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT, looking at the disturbance effects of boat-based tourism on the waterbirds of the Ramsar-designated De Hoop Vlei. While undergoing fieldwork Andrew has recorded in excess of 200 birds on the reserve, one of the most complete bird lists available for the area.
Andrew is passionate about sharing South Africa's biodiversity with everyone he meets, and is currently studying part-time towards his FGASA Level 1 Nature Guide course. His ultimate bird moment was assisting with the fitment of a GPS-tracking unit to a majestic Martial Eagle in Kruger National Park. Andrew founded the UCT Birding Club along with Birding Africa guides Seth Musker and Campbell Fleming, and was elected chairperson for its inaugural year in 2016.
Dominic got hooked on birds at the age of eight and has not looked back since. He grew up in Zululand, where he spent many hours in the area's game reserves and become well-known for all his sightings. He has travelled extensively in southern Africa in search of the region's diverse birds and wildlife. Dom moved down to Cape Town to pursue doctorate on saving albatrosses, researching ways with Peter Ryan to reduce seabird bycatch in the pelagic longline fishery. This has given him many months at sea, with trips to Tristan da Cunha, Prince Edward Islands and Antarctica. Dominic frequently guides our Cape Town Pelagics trips and has found many rarities.
Rob has spent more days at sea observing seabirds in the Southern Oceans than just about anyone (well over 1000)! He's worked as a fisheries research scientist for decades and is also very interested in cetaceans. Rob recently found one of the only records of Grey-backed Storm Petrel in South Africa on one of our trips. Rob has birded widely in Africa and internationally.
Barrie Rose Cape Town Pelagics Guide and Tour Leader around Cape Town
We're still in shock following the tragic death of our friend Barrie Rose on 30 December 2016. The southern oceans have lost one of their most knowledgeable conservationists, and his incredible sharing of knowledge will be missed. Barrie died after slipping from the sea cliffs near Cape Point while angling with some of his closest friends. A more detailed tribute is linked here.
Barrie is famous as the most experienced pelagic birder in Cape Town who has added tremendously to our knowledge of rare seabirds off South Africa. Born and bred Capetonian, Barrie's deep interest in nature started with his grandfather Walter Rose, a pioneering herpetologist after whom the endemic Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei) is named. Land birds and pelagic seabirds, the region's mammals, reptiles and frogs absorbed Barrie's fascination and led him to explore unsual places in Africa (Equatorial Guinea, Socotra and sub-Antarctic Islands), South America, Asia, the Antipodes and Antarctica.
Barrie's observations of dwindling seabird populations, while he worked at Marine and Coastal Management and I & J Fishing, led him to institute changes that reduce the impacts of fisheries on seabirds. He consulted for the seabird portion of Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, the 'Seasonal Table for Seabirds' in Essential Birding and the Southern African Birdfinder, and the South African Rareties Committee for over ten years. Barry was a talented photographer (but a birder first and foremost) and guided for local and international birding companies for over 30 years. Barrie monitored conservation compliance in international fishing vessels and regularly led trips for Cape Town Pelagics and Birding Africa.