Current Staff

Nature's Valley Office

Conservation Scientist

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Brittany Arendse

Brittany is a Conservation Scientist and Creative Director at Nature’s Valley Trust. She completed her tertiary studies at the University of Cape Town, majoring in marine biology and ecology during her undergraduate degree and obtaining her MSc. in pollination biology.

Before starting at NVT she spent a year with CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers), SANBI, where she gained a plethora of practical botanical experience. Brittany started at NVT as a WWF-SA intern and upon completion of this 18-month development program was offered a permanent position. She manages NVTs various long-term estuarine and fynbos projects and has also branched out into the shorebird monitoring section of the #ShareTheShores coastal impact programme. While at NVT she has become captivated with birds and has consequently qualified as a bird ringer. She also heads up most of NVTs creative output on social media and in terms of merchandise and other paraphernalia.




Conservation Education Manager




Kirwan Strydom

Kirwan is the Conservation Educator at Nature’s Valley Trust. He holds a degree in Environment and Development from the University of Stellenbosch. After completing his undergraduate studies, he started volunteering at CapeNature in the Stewardship and Corridor department. Impressing as a volunteer, he was employed as a Groen Sebenza intern within CapeNature.  While working as a Community Conservation Intern he completed his honors in Integrated Water Resource Management at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

As his internship came to an end, an opportunity arrived at the Nature’s Valley Trust which he grabbed with both hands. He is also currently studying to obtain his Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) through UNISA. This has enabled him to continue to live out his passion and dream to help uplift the community.



Conservation Volunteer Manager




Kellyn Whitehead

Kellyn began her journey with NVT in March 2014, as a volunteer, and since then has been a member of the team as a post-graduate student. Originally from Jo'burg, Kellyn has since made the Garden Route her home. She studied at Stellenbosch University where she completed her BSc. and BSc. Hons. in Biodiversity and Ecology.

While with NVT, Kellyn has completed her MSc. in Pollination Ecology with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and now oversees the volunteer and internship programme for NVT as well as various other ecological research. 



Plettenberg Bay Office

Marine Scientist

Dr. Gwen Penry

Gwen Penry

Dr Gwenith Penry is a marine mammal biologist and supervisor of the NVT marine team. She has focused her research on the South African Bryde’s whale but over the past 14 years has worked on several species in different countries around the world. Although originally born in South Africa, Gwenith completed school in the UK and then BSc Hons in Zoology at Cardiff University. During this degree she spent a year back in South Africa working with Dr Vic Cockcroft at the Centre for Dolphin Studies where she began the Bryde’s whale research and was exposed to a wide range of research techniques. Gwenith has completed her PhD on the Biology of South African Bryde’s whales. This was done through the University of St Andrews’ Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Centre for Dolphin Studies in Plettenberg Bay. The focus of this PhD was to identify the abundance, seasonal occurrence and genetic identity of the Bryde’s whales that occur in and around Plettenberg Bay. Through the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute, Dr Penry then embarked on a 2 year postdoctoral research project to extend the work done during her PhD by collecting data in False Bay and East London. This work is the first of its kind to investigate the population size, distribution and occurrence, and genetics of this poorly studied species.  Gwenith worked for the Plettenberg Bay Environmental Forum as their consultant and during this time was contracted to prepare the application to UNESCO to have the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve declared. It was during this process that she was introduced to the importance of identifying ecosystem services and their value to communities. Gwenith is continuing to run the Southern African Bryde’s whale project. She is currently registered at the Nelson Mandela University’s Coastal and Marine Research Institute, co-ordinates the local Plett Stranding Network, and is actively involved in long term monitoring of marine mammals (and other marine life) along the south coast of South Africa. In January 2018, in collaboration with the Natures Valley Trust, they were awarded a 3 year funding cycle from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust to commence a study on the socio-economic and ecological sustainability of marine tourism in South Africa. She is a strong advocate of citizen science contributions to better understand the occurrence and distribution of marine mammals and the value of public education and engagement in the marine environment. 

Research Technician

Caitlin Prof



Caitlin Judge

Caitlin is a Marine Research Assistant and digital content creator for Nature’s Valley Trust. She has a BSc. Hons degree in Zoology from Newcastle University in the UK, F.G.A.S.A guiding experience and research skills. Alongside her academic studies she has creative experience in videography, social media and graphic design. This mixture of experience helps to bridge the gap between scientific research and communication to the public- something she is passionate about. When she’s not out on our research vessel she can still be found in the ocean most days surfing, embracing the ocean and its incredible inhabitants.  






Chanel hauvette

Chanel Hauvette 

Chanel is a Marine Research Technician at Nature's Valley Trust. Although she grew up in Johannesburg, she moved her life down to the coast after school and completed her National diploma in Nature Conservation at NMU Saasveld, George campus. During and after her course, Chanel spent just short of two years at ORCA Foundation as a volunteer co-ordinator and manager of an international marine conservation, education and research volunteer program, as well as a Marine guide for Ocean Blue Adventures. Chanel has spent most of her career life as a marine guide, having returned to guiding on the boats again recently at Ocean Odyssey in Knysna, and so she has a wide understanding of general cetacean behaviour, but she has also specialised in wildlife rehabilitation. Chanel worked with an extensive variety of wild animals and then focused particularly on seabirds, having spent almost three years as a rehabilitator at SANCCOB Saves Seabirds. As a rehabilitator, she also got very involved in tour guiding within the sector, therefore her myriad of guiding roles elicited her immense passion for environmental education. After SANCCOB, Chanel wanted to add more value towards seabird conservation and went onto being more involved in seabird research in the Seychelles. Chanel is an avid lover of the ocean and so when she is not out as an active member of the Plett Stranding Network, responding to mammal strandings or rescuing seabirds and turtles, she is always educating the public about the ocean by spending most of her time at sea via boat. Chanel has her skippers licence and has also volunteered time with NSRI, gaining extensive sea knowledge. A variety of qualifications and skills combined, have made Chanel the strong ocean ambassador she is today.