Research and education are the core functions of Bayworld. Research generates knowledge, most particularly in relation to the collections that the Museum holds in trust. Since knowledge is cumulative, research must be perpetual.
Objects, specimens or examples are acquired by donation, bequest, purchase, loan, exchange or by excavation collecting in the field. The collecting policy reflects the particular status and strengths of its collections. Completeness and quality of the specimens are of the utmost importance, as is their regional relevance. Collecting centres in the Eastern Cape, expanding where appropriate to the whole of Southern Africa and the ocean waters and islands around it. Specimens from elsewhere are only included if they complement and strengthen the existing collections. The Museum's scientific collections are curated and documented according to the highest possible professional standards to ascertain that they constitute a permanent record of the natural and cultural assets of mankind.
A wide variety of research activities, such as fundamental research, interpretive research and applied research are accommodated. However, the main research activity centres on its major non-living and living collections: marine mammalogy, herpetology, cultural history, otoliths and squid beaks. Consequently, research in these fields is encouraged.
Bayworld promotes the dissemination of knowledge by reporting scientific discoveries in appropriate media, through teaching and by making its collections available to students and researchers from other institutions. Furthermore, a day seldom passes when Bayworld is not thronged with children of all ages and cultures participating in a unique learning experience.
The Port Elizabeth Museum herpetological collection is the third largest in Africa and houses the most important collections of Southern African tortoises and the Eastern Cape herpetofauna. It also holds important collections from adjacent African countries, particularly Mozambique and Namibia
Honorary Curator Emeritas
Prof Bill Branch
Active research in African marine ichthyology includes food and feeding ecology of fish, as well as focused research on the spotted ragged tooth shark. Structured community participation is used to gain valuable information for this project.
Dr Malcolm Smale
The marine mammal collection is thought to be the third largest in the world and currently holds specimens representing 30 different species of whales and dolphins as well as five different seal species. Active research in marine mammal science currently underway includes the general ecology, diet, reproduction and taxonomy of African marine mammals.
Research focuses on marine archaeology, shipwrecks, multicultural period costumes and Eastern Cape local history. Click here for history.
Bayworld has three large, nationally importantnatural history collections, namely the marine mammal, herpetological and otolith (fish ear-bone) collections. There is also a small collection of cephalopod beaks, as well as a history collection. Minor or Cinderella collections include shells, beadwork andethnographical artifacts.
The Marine Mammal Collection is reported to be the third largest and one of the most diverse in the world. Currently there are more than 3 090 specimens collected mainly from the Indian Ocean. These include skeletal material and wet samples. Stranded animals from along the Eastern Cape coast are added to the collection. Thirty cetacean (whales and dolphins) and at least five seal species are represented in the collection.
The Otolith Collection comprises more than 19 100 specimens of ear-bones removed from marine bony fishes. These distinct bones are used to identify the fish prey of marine predators including dolphins, seals, gannets and sharks. Most specimens have been collected from the Western Indian Ocean. Many of the fish from which the otoliths have been removed are lodged in the collection at the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in Grahamstown. They are termed voucher specimens.
The Squid Beak Collection comprises more than 1 300 specimens. These mouth parts of octopus and squid species have been collected mainly from the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans. They are used in the identification of prey species of marine mammals and other predators.
The Herpetological Collection is the third largest in Africa and comprises more than 16 000 reptiles and 7 500 amphibians mainly collected from South Africa. South Africa has one of the richest herpetofaunas in the world. Specimens from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola and Gabon are also represented.
For more information on these Collections, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The History Collection consists of maritime artefacts, including wreck material and ships' models acquired through donations and SA Heritage Resources Agency diving permit regulations; costumes and general history collections like furniture, silver, iron, brass and copper objects, architectural models, maps, photographs, documents, firearms, swords and canons were donated by members of the public. A military collection is also housed at the Price Alfred Guard Drill Hall.
The No7 Castle Hill collection which were also donated by members of the public, has received National Treasure status as a result of its high quality, variety and the significance of the collection.
For more information on these Collections, contact email@example.com.Back to top