ethical marine mammal tourism mozambique
evolving since ’98
conservation awareness research education

DolphinCareAfrica was founded in ’98 as the research and conservation arm of Dolphin EnCOuntours for the purpose that would benefit the dolphins and marine environment in Ponta do Ouro. It was evident that with the ‘swim with dolphins’ prohibition in South Africa, Mozambique would soon join the elite number of countries that are fortunate enough to host marine mammals and allow swim with activities. This would - if left unregulated become un-sustainable. The writing was on the wall.

One of the first aims was to start a collaborated long term monitoring project of the dolphins that would be funded by encountours, the sister commercial dolphins swim operator. Each time a program was facilitated, baseline data and images were collected. Secondly was to campaign for a code of conduct to be followed that included a one boat policy and non invasive swim procedures when encountering dolphins in the water and by boat. Third but certainly not least - early pioneers to the area envisaged a marine protected in hope that the unique bio-diversity of the area would be cared for.

To date over 5000 encounters have been recorded over the years, and 30 000+ images taken, validating the organizations longterm commitment to the study and protection of the dolphins in the area. 

The project’s long term data sets have successfully been used in obtaining abundance & identification information on the resident  inshore bottlesnose dolphins  (Tursiops aduncus) and the rare indo-pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea). Dca contributed to the establishment of the Ponta Partial Marine Reserve, a longterm goal finally achieved thanks to the many reports and correspondence with government over the years.  The project has aided studies on sustainable dolphin tourism in east Africa, a long-term study into how dolphins are affected by increased tourism & what measures should be taken to protect this species for generations to come.

The History of DCA

Founded by a group of people who had connected with the resident dolphins of Ponta do Ouro in southern Mozambique while setting up Africa’s first wild dolphin swim program. One of those people was Angie Gullan who had spent two years prior traveling to and fro from Johannesburg developing what was to be Africa's first structured wild dolphin swim program that supported conservation, awareness, research and education into their work. 

The orginisations purchased their first boat & camera’s to capture the dolphins as part of their commitment to research based tourism allowing them to record the dolphins and see who they were interacting with on a regular basis. Each time they retuned they found interactions were getting closer and it became apparent that they were seeing the same dolphins each time. News started to spread of the encounters with the wilds and strangers from all walks of life started contacting them seeking to encounter dolphins and hence Dolphin Encountours was born, followed shortly by DolphinCareAfrica.

A detailed and specially formulated Code of Conduct was developed to ensure the dolphins were not harassed during interactions. Ethical Marine Mammal Tourism was advocated. At the close of the millennium a profound connection with a young female found interactions being taken to another level. A conscious level, where dolphin/s would actively choose to engage through circle swims, direct approaches and long extended visits. The predictability of swimmers behavior and the consistency of visits soon saw a profound relationship blossom which allowed for some extra ordinary in-water observations of this gregarious species.

The media lapped up the opportunity to film, photograph and write about Encountours and DCA’s work and close relationship with the Dolphins of Ponta which at that stage was proudly advocated as the areas only dedicated wild dolphin swim program. People started arriving from far and wide and with ‘business being business’ operators within the area started to capitalize on this exposure. Tourists soon started arriving with jetskis and boats to come and ‘swim with the dolphins’.  Sadly - everyone had missed the point and the pressure was on for the dolphins who are now subject to the dolphin swim trade in Mozambique.

Dr Almeida Guissamulo

Scientific Advisor

Dr Guissamulo has been assisting the organization since its inception and was part of developing the DCA code of conduct and monitoring project. DCA were introduced to Almeida via Dr Vic Cockcroft (Centre of Dolphin Studies - SA) in the late 90‘s and have since maintained a long and valuable relationship.

He was born in Maputo, Mozambique and graduated at Eduardo Mondlane University in 1993. In 2008 he obtained a PhD degree in Zoology from the University of Kwazulu Natal. He has since been conducting research on small cetaceans and dugongs, including the ecology and conservation of bottlenose and humpback dolphins in Maputo Bay; the distribution and abundance of dugongs and dolphins in the Bay of Bazaruto Archipelago and studies of the swim with the dolphin tourism at Ponta do Ouro, Southern Mozambique.

Almeida is also involved in socio-economic research in the the field of artisanal fisheries, having studied fishing communities and dynamics at Vamizi (Quirimba Archipelago); the migration of fishers in northern coast of Cabo Delgado Province and the exploitation of marine resources (mainly fisheries and invertebrates) at Inhaca Island in Southern Mozambique. Almeida currently lectures at Eduardo Mondlane University teaching, among other courses, animal ecology and the population biology (undergraduate course) and marine and coastal Biodiveristy (at Masters Level) and is a researcher at the Natural History Museum of Maputo. Almeida is since 2010 the Country coordinator of WIOMSA.

Among other activities he is currently involved with the assessment of the extend of dugong by-catch at the greater Bazaruto Archipelago (and southern Mozambique) and he is involved in designing with several international specialists a multi-faceted intervention process (socio-economic and environmental) to mitigate the threats to dugongs. Apart from this, he is also supervising students in several research fields which include fishery biology and reef ecology.

Mitchel Niemeyer

Surf Skipper & Guide

Mitchel is the organizations dedicated skipper who has been working in the industry for the last 18 years. His is highly skilled in surf launching, ensuring your safety and peace of mind whilst at sea on our dolphin boat “Avalon”.

He is a keen water boy and shares a deep respect and love for our marine environment. Mitchel heads up the boating side of the project. Having spent the last 7 years working with the dolphins, Mitchel is able to both identify certain individuals within the pods of dolphins we monitor as well as closely read and understand the myriad of different behaviors they exhibit, a vital component to ethical marine mammal tourism practice.

He is a keen spear fisherman who is very conscious of his actions - taking only what is needed. Mitch has had some profound interactions with dolphins while spearing and has had the opportunity of being involved in a humpback whale rescue along the KZN coastline where he helped cut free a humpback whale that was caught in the shark nets.

Angie Gullan

Founder and creator of DCA & DE


Angie moved to Ponta do Ouro in 1999 and has spent many hours at sea filming and photographing the dolphins while guiding encountour programs.

Angie coined the terms circle swimming and conscious interaction when she met a young female dolphin that was soon named Bo. This was the beginning of interactions moving to a conscious level.

Angie has been very active in the sphere or conservation and research and has featured in environmental and tourism broadcasts and articles both locally and abroad. Angie passion is to film the wilds and focuses specifically at those dolphins that are conscious interactors. Angie takes care of the creation and updating of the organization/s web sites as well is an active campaigner in dolphin rights. She spends much time working on the projects campaigns and reports and when not at sea can be found in her office at home.

Angie’s and her crew faced a major set back in June 2010 when their facilities and home burned to the ground. Although it has been a difficult time for the organization, DCA has continued against all odds!

‘These are remarkable and intelligent beings and it is a privilege to spend time with them. But we also have a responsibility to protect them.’ Angie Gullan  Sky News 2010 (Founder DCA and DE)

Sharyn West

Director & active member

Whilst Sharyn was a senior lecturer in Oxford, England she helped to develop and acquire research capacity and equipment for DCA. 

She was also an active and founding member of the pressure group that campaigned for the declaration of the Ponta do Oura partial marine protected area. In the period that Sharyn lived and worked in England she qualified as a marine mammal surveyor with Order Cetacea in Britain (ORCA) and trained members of the public and marine science students in these skills for ORCA since 2008. She also trained with British Divers Marine Life Rescue to qualify as a Marine Mammal Medic. Sharyn negotiated and secured founder member status for DCA with Planet Whale and has been working to promote this partnership since returning to live in South Africa. 

Diana Rocha

DCA biologist & educator

Diana spent 5 years in Brazil where she undertook a degree in biology at the University Gama Filho in Rio. She now is back home in Mozambique and has been part of the dolphin team since February 2010.

Her responsibilities include educational pre-launch briefings, research and conservation presentations, together with data collection, entry and volunteer supervision.

Her main priority is cataloguing and identifying individuals in the area and she is looking at obtaining her Phd in social networks. She has a wonderful connection with the dolphins that comes out of her want to understand their complex social structures and protect this gregarious species.