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Who We Are

Knysna Basin Project is a scientifically based non-profit organisation focused on continued research in the Knysna Basin >>

Community Engagement

Knysna Basin Project aims to create and stimulate public and learner awareness and appreciation of the estuary >>

Public Involvement

Be part of an organization dedicated to the wellbeing of the Knysna Estuary, become a member of the Knysna Basin Project >>

Members of the Team:

Professor Alan Hodgson, a staff member of the Department of Zoology & Entomology, Rhodes University, studies the reproductive biology, behaviour and ecology of the lagoonal and estuarine invertebrates. Current projects include work on the invasive Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and documenting the organisms colonising man-made artificial hard substrata. He is also co-supervising (along with Prof. Alan Whitfield, SAIAB) a Master’s student, Melissa Pollard, who is using video cameras to study fish inhabiting eelgrass meadows.
Alan has undertaken research in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Europe. He obtained a B.Sc. Honours degree in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool, his Ph.D. (1980) and D.Sc. (2004) from the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and has been awarded the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of southern Africa and the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research award.

Dr Richard Barnes, an Honorary Professor of the Department of Zoology & Entomology at Rhodes University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, studies the ecology and biodiversity of the relatively small animals that numerically dominate coastal sands and mud.  Besides conducting fieldwork to find out how and why these species vary spatially in the Knysna seagrass beds, and from the seagrass to adjacent bare sand, during the first three months of each calendar year (see The Knysna Seagrass Project on this website), he carries out equivalent work during another annual three-month period in the Moreton Bay Marine Park in Queensland (Australia).

Before formal retirement, Richard was at the University of Cambridge in the UK and he retains an Emeritus Fellowship of St Catharine’s College Cambridge and a Research Fellowship in the University Department of Zoology there. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow of the School of Biological Sciences and the Centre for Marine Sciences at the University of Queensland and of the Biodiversity Program of the Queensland Museum, in Brisbane.


Louw Claassens joined the Knysna Basin Project team in February 2014. She holds a Masters degree in aquatic health from the University of Johannesburg. The Knysna Seahorse Status (KySS) project forms part of her PhD study through Rhodes University.  

Citizen Scientists:

The team is greatly helped by the interest and skills of a number of volunteers, called Citizen Scientists, who no longer practise their original professions, but bring their rich stores of experience to bear upon our study of the estuary. Inga Chinnery, Peter Smith, Frances Smith, Maureen Lake, Mike Davies and Lorraine Cloete are actively involved in many ways, particularly environmental interests and numerical analysis of data sets.

Director: Prof Brian Allanson

Prof Brian Allanson was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at  Rhodes University in 1963, the youngest Professor ever to have been appointed there. In 1965 the Institute for Freshwater Studies was established at Rhodes, with Brian as its first Director. This group played a seminal role in the investigation of the physics, chemistry and biology of coastal lakes and estuaries, notably Lake Sibaya and the Kosi lakes system in KwaZulu-Natal and the coastal lakes of the Southern Cape.

During his Rhodes years Professor Allanson had spells at Indiana University, Oxford University and at Ferry House, Windermere, as a visiting professor and researcher, and collaborated on an on-going basis with the water research centre at the University of Western Australia. In 1980 he established the Southern Ocean Research Group, and this involved visits to Marion Island as well as to Antarctica. He served as Chief  Scientist on two voyages on board the SA Agulhas, South Africa’s Antarctic supply and research ship.



Throughout the 90's there was an increasing realisation by the general public, or at least some of the non-governmental organisations (NGO's), that the rivers and estuaries of the coastal rimland of South Africa were threatened by poor land management, urban and industrial development and the effluents which they generate.


In 2007, the major corporate ‘Barloworld’ made a substantial grant for the refurbishing of the Field laboratory which brought up-to-date its equipment. This together with the publication history of the laboratory allowed it to become a constituent part of the Department of Zoology and Entomology of Rhodes University and to secure financial support from the University.



Thesen Island Home Owners Association Barloworld Rhodes University
Knysna Marathon Club