Jonas Haller shares his South African experience

Jonas Haller Knysna Basin Project

“All Life is an Experiment. The more Experiments you make the better!” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

My time in Knysna was one of the best experiences I had in my life. I can still remember the day when I stepped onto the plane, uncertain but expectant about my research project at the Knysna Basin Project. It was the first time that I travelled to South Africa, but now I can say it fulfilled my expectations completely. I directly fell in love with the beautiful landscape, the nature and also with the warm-hearted people. Everyone was so pleasant and helpful to me and I always had the feeling I am more than welcome in their country.

Jonas Haller Knysna Basin Project

Knysna is a beautiful small town with a unique estuary. That estuary gives the whole town a special touch and I am very happy that Prof Brian Allanson once decided to do research on the ecosystem in that estuary to protect them. Although the Knysna Basin Project is a small Non Profit Organisation with limited budget, the passion of every team member for the ocean is endless. That passion combined with a high scientific knowledge makes the Knysna Basin Project so special. I am very satisfied and proud that I had the chance to work in the team and to conduct my research project in that great atmosphere.

As I said in my previous Blog the topic of my research project was to analyse the microplastics abundance in rivers which flow into the Knysna estuary. My results showed that in every river (natural/urban) microplastics could be detected which makes me sad as filtering animals are able to feed on these microplastic particles. How far this affects these animals is not clearly known – but you can imagine having plastic in your stomach could not be healthy!  With my data and with the data from Merrisa Naidoo who also worked on plastic abundances at different places in the estuary, methods could be developed to avoid microplastic contaminations in the Knysna area to protect the species. Research is the only way to get reliable information about the anthropogenic influences and changes in the environment which is the key to inform the wider population of the effects on the environment and the necessity to protect it. 

Finally, I can say I am missing my time in South Africa, the people I met and the experiences I had. I hope to meet everyone again someday. I would like to thank Louw Claassens for her amazing help and her time. It was a great pleasure for me to work with you and keep on going with being a seahorse mom for all the seahorses in the Knysna Estuary! All the best and a lot of success for the Knysna Basin Project in the future!

Post written by Jonas Haller