Prof. Michael Schleyer‘s unrelenting commitment to research on local and regional coral reefs has earned him admiration and respect of scientists globally and has yielded valuable information on reefs and their resources. His work has provided decision-support, leading to improved conservation measures in reef MPAs and provided input for the proclamation of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park as a World Heritage Site, as well as promulgation of the Aliwal Shoal MPA. He has successfully attracted research funding and generated numerous regional graduates and post-graduates. In terms of international recognition, results emanating from his research have been published in leading international journals and have led to him playing a role in international institutions and fora. To date, he has authored or co-authored 115 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, four peer-reviewed field notes, 25 chapters in books including a CD and a Field Guide on soft coral taxonomy, the State of the Coast report for the WIO, 62 unpublished reports, 87 conference presentations including two invited keynote addresses, and numerous popular articles. He has served as the Editor in Chief of the Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science. His pivotal work in the field of coral taxonomy resulted in the description of a new soft coral genus and a number of species, and chapters on corals in a field guide on marine life in East Africa and the islands of the Western Indian Ocean.
Prof. Schleyer’s illustrious career at the Oceanography Research Institute (ORI), South Africa, spans 3 decades. Until his retirement in 2012, he directed invertebrate and biodiversity-related research at ORI, as well as several multi-disciplinary projects while personally specializing in subtropical and coral reef research off the East African coast and in the southern Red Sea. As Deputy Director of ORI, his research brief included the supervision of projects on invertebrate fisheries monitoring and management, as well as the biology of mussels, oysters, rock lobsters and other crustaceans. He has supervised 16 Masters and 16 PhD Theses. His responsibilities further included interaction on issues concerning coastal zone and fisheries management and he was responsible for numerous EIAs and consultancies. To date, his work at ORI continues as a Research Associate, focusing on the effects of climate change on coral reefs within appropriate predictive models. Other work that he conceptualised within the greater ORI Coral Reef Programme is still being executed by students under his supervision. He is the South African representative to the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and was, until recently, a local representative for the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN).
Prof. Schleyer is committed to capacity building in the WIO Region and has been involved in several regional projects such as the Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO) Programme in Mozambique where he helped establish coral reef monitoring stations at seven sites along the Mozambican coast, he has developed and delivered capacity development courses on coral reefs and crime scene investigation. He has been involved in several regional survey projects such as TRANSMAP and an IUCN coastal biodiversity survey of the Somaliland Coast. He has also been involved in research cruises and many other projects.