By Alice Zejglic

uShaka Marine World and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) has been mourning the death of Gambit, our beloved bottlenose dolphin who passed away on Monday 20 April 2020.

Gambit was a true South African icon and a legend in his own right. He has helped to inspire millions of people to care for the ocean and has had a direct influence on the lives of many thousands of people who have met him.

Undisputed patriarch of uShaka Sea World, Gambit was father to five and grandfather to one of the uShaka Sea World dolphins. A consummate showman, Gambit was always keen to take part in anything going on in the dolphinarium.

Gambit celebrated his 48th birthday last year, one of the oldest dolphins to ever be documented. In recent months though, Gambit was beginning to slow down and show signs of his age and was being carefully monitored by our animal care and veterinary teams.

“His passing today was unexpected but thankfully swift, leaving an enormous hole in the hearts of the uShaka Sea World team, many of whom have worked with Gambit for over 20 years,” said Gabby Harris, assistant curator of South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR)’s Mammal and Bird Department.

Dr Larry Oellermann, CEO of SAAMBR expressed his deep sadness and support for the uShaka Sea World team:

“I have known Gambit since 1977, when I first met him as a teenager visiting the old Durban Aquarium. The awe he inspired in me then was one of the reasons I became a marine biologist”, he said. “My thoughts go out to the team who have worked so closely with Gambit over the years. All of us at SAAMBR share their loss.”

The outpouring of affection for Gambit in the hours after his death have made it clear just how much he has impacted the lives and hearts of so many people, and how important it is to have a personal connection with nature. Gambit allowed countless people the opportunity to peer beneath the sea and meet one of its great ambassadors. He has played a vital role in SAAMBR’s mission to connect people to the life of the ocean.

“Our challenge is to translate this outpouring of compassion into meaningful action for our oceans, as we continue to work towards conserving our oceans not only for dolphins, but all marine life” said SAAMBR’s Conservation Strategist, Dr Judy Mann.