Whale Heritage Sites https://whaleheritagesites.org WHALE WATCHING TOURISM PLAYING A CRUCIAL ROLE IN SAVING OUR OCEANS. Sun, 20 Dec 2020 19:02:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 https://secureservercdn.net/198.12.145.239/d17.b77.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/cropped-HeritageSite_logo_black-32x32.png Whale Heritage Sites https://whaleheritagesites.org 32 32 WHS Criteria Explained: Research, Education and Awareness https://whaleheritagesites.org/whs-criteria-explained-research-education-and-awareness/ Sun, 20 Dec 2020 17:24:00 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=4323 The post WHS Criteria Explained: Research, Education and Awareness appeared first on Whale Heritage Sites.

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Whales and dolphins are charismatic mammals that have a unique ability to unite and inspire people to care more about our oceans. In this series of articles, we are focusing on each of the criteria underpinning the Whale Heritage Site accreditation. This month we are centred on the critical aspects of research, education and awareness.

Conservation-based cetacean research is paramount as not only can this influence policy and legislation but through the emerging medium of science communication, important findings can be translated to the public.

The more we understand about the different species of cetaceans, their role in the marine ecosystem and the threats they face then the better we can protect them and their environment. Through education and science communication, we can proactively impart this knowledge and help others understand why safeguarding cetacean populations is significant and how we can minimise human pressures on our seas. By increasing public awareness of the pressing challenges facing whales and dolphins, we can inspire change and help enhance our connection to and relationship with these captivating animals and their ocean homes.

Conservation is the key message. We know that many of our partners across the world that are doing so much in this area already. For those that are advocates for responsible whale watching, this represents a real opportunity to do more than impart some exciting facts and information about the whales and dolphins you can see on boat trips. There has been a significant shift towards edu-tourism and wildlife-watching holidays as part of the broader, ever-growing sphere of eco-tourism. More and more people are placing learning and discovery at the heart of their travels. They want to understand how their trips and excursions contribute to the conservation of the places they visit.

The Whale Heritage Site initiative seeks to formally recognise those areas that are investing in research and are putting education and public awareness at the heart of their message. Whether you are a charity, NGO, whale-watching tour operator, tourism board, marine biologist, research institution, volunteer or government agency, there are many ways of supporting and demonstrating the importance of cetaceans.

Through our partner network, we get to showcase some of the fantastic work that goes on in actively promoting the preservation of cetacean habitats, the efforts to conserve and protect specific species and the projects centred on enhancing the connection between humans and cetaceans. This work isn’t about different organisations and individuals working separately; this is about demonstrating the importance of collaboration across an entire region.

Through responsible cetacean interactions and whale-watching trips, people of all ages and backgrounds can make a real, lasting connection to cetaceans. 

Many operators have marine biologists and researchers onboard who provide that specialist knowledge that helps to bridge the gap between science and the public which represents a real opportunity to open people’s eyes to the threats that cetaceans face in the wild and how they can help. By promoting the educational and conservational value of responsible whale-watching, we can increase public understanding of just how essential cetaceans are in contributing to a growing awareness of broader environmental issues.

We want to encourage and recognise our partners who are already supporting such great work in this area. Research, education and awareness represent a significant part of the overall Whale Heritage Site initiative, and we know there are so many cetacean-based projects and research programmes that are happening in potential candidate sites all over the world. These are supporting regional whale and dolphin populations, both resident and transient but are collectively contributing to the global conservation effort. Whale Heritage Site designation provides a platform for local communities, tour operators, NGOs and tourism boards to showcase the great work they are doing in this area.

The growth in citizen science projects and educational outreach programmes are driving greater interest and engagement from the public. Tourists, local community members and school children are all playing their part in contributing to essential research into whale and dolphin populations. There are databases and applications where people can upload videos and photos of sightings to help with identification and data collection. Organised local beach cleans are becoming more frequent and increasingly popular.

They have helped to highlight the problem of plastic pollution and marine litter and the threats this poses to cetacean populations and the broader ecosystem. More responsible whale-watching guides are producing educational content for their discerning customers that is informative and inspiring.

Members of a local community have a vested interest in protecting and valuing their environment and resources. Through the publication of research, ongoing education and increased awareness, there is a greater appreciation than ever for how important cetacean populations are to marine culture, heritage and biodiversity. Pioneering efforts in this area can also lead to a plethora of economic, environmental and social benefits which support communities and livelihoods.

If you offer training courses, fundraising events or put on organised talks for locals and tourists or if you have a social media platform where you share articles, educational videos or blogs then you are already playing your part in raising awareness and encouraging change. Perhaps you offer internships, publish peer-reviewed journal articles or promote non-scientific content through TV or radio. The chances are if these things are happening in your business or local community, then other aspects of the WHS criteria will also be prevalent such as encouraging respectful human-cetacean coexistence and celebrating cetaceans. Each potential candidate site will have its own unique means of satisfying the requirements appropriate to its local context. Through these articles, we hope that many areas will realise that the WHS criteria are a formalisation of the great things currently being done to protect these charismatic mammals that we appreciate greatly. These criteria are about demonstrating that through research and by providing education and enhancing awareness of critical conservation issues, we are helping to create a vision for a much more positive future for both cetaceans and ourselves.

By Marie Harrington

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WHS Criteria Explained – Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability https://whaleheritagesites.org/whs-criteria-explained-environmental-social-and-economic-sustainability/ Tue, 03 Nov 2020 17:53:34 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=4302 The post WHS Criteria Explained – Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability appeared first on Whale Heritage Sites.

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With any formal certification process, a list of qualifying criteria is required to assess each potential candidate. The criteria set out the standards that must be met, the processes that must be in place and the important things that must be proven before any award is offered. It all sounds very formal and can be quite daunting when you first start to look into it, but when you delve a bit deeper, you may realise that those standards are things you are already doing every day.

Candidates must meet four main criteria before Whale Heritage Site status is designated. In this series of articles, we’re going to focus on explaining a bit more about each one in terms of what it means and how you can practically demonstrate the requirements that will set your unique part of the world on the road to becoming a Whale Heritage Site.

Here, we’re going to focus on Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability.

What do we mean by this? Let’s break it down.

Environmental sustainability relates to the preservation of ecosystems and habitats that helps support thriving populations of whales and dolphins, whether resident or transient. For example, your coastal waters may be a designated Marine Protected Area or a Special Area of Conservation. You may have a specific cetacean protocol that multiple stakeholders have signed up to. There may be multiple organisations in your area that are advocating responsible interaction with the environment or local projects and initiatives that promote the conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Enhancing the protection of the marine environment benefits not only cetaceans but also the community. Environmental sustainability means we are respecting and managing our ocean environment in a way that means it will be protected and maintained for future generations.

Social sustainability is another of the three key pillars of the sustainability cycle. Social sustainability refers to how individuals, communities and societies interact. For the Whale Heritage Site designation, we look for evidence of collaboration between people, businesses, tourism boards, NGOs and Government departments and the sharing of a common goal or purpose that not only benefit cetaceans but the communities within the proposed heritage site. Examples include capacity building; skills development; education and community outreach; citizen science and environmental awareness projects. The sharing of knowledge and research is also important, as are any other local initiatives that promote the Whale Heritage Site. It involves influencers and decision-makers working together to maintain the long term needs of the community. We know there are lots of communities within the WCA network that are doing great things in this area already.

Economic sustainability for Whale Heritage Sites is ensuring the protection of economic growth and activity whilst protecting the ecosystems and habitats that support this. We often hear this referred to as the Blue Economy.

According to the World Bank, the Blue Economy is defined as “the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.” There is economic value to be gained from protecting cetaceans, particularly in the whale-watching and marine tourism sector. There are many places around the world where livelihoods and the prosperity of local communities depend upon the presence of cetaceans.

Like everything in life, it’s all about achieving a healthy balance. The Whale Heritage Site certification formally recognises those areas that successfully achieve this balance or who are working towards sustainable management in these three areas.

A good example from an existing Whale Heritage Site is the WildOceans Blue Port project in Durban, South Africa. The project aims to clean and restore the Durban port ecosystem through engagement and collaboration with the port’s wider stakeholder community. It demonstrates how the current degraded state of the port is a severe challenge to sustainable development. Through working with the relevant authorities, this initiative has increased job creation and the stimulation of economic activity in the area. It has already enabled capacity-building, work experience and the acquisition of new skills for over 50 unemployed local youngsters whilst raising awareness of the environmental challenges.

We believe there are many communities within our partner network and across the world that can become Whale Heritage Site. Many outstanding destinations are strong advocates for responsible whale and dolphin watching that are also great environmental and conservation champions. One such place is Franja Marina Teno-Rasca in Tenerife, Spain. A recently approved Whale Heritage Candidate Site, this is an area that is a great example to any other aspiring candidates that are thinking of applying for the accreditation. They have a diverse range of engaged stakeholders supporting the process, including whale watching businesses, tourism boards, NGOs and scientists.

In highlighting the importance of this global certification programme to the local community, Mercedes Reyes of Whale Wise Eco Tours in Tenerife said: “Whale Heritage Site status would provide us with a strong tool to preserve our rich cetacean diversity and habitat; to embrace economic, social, and environmental benefits for our local communities; and to share this wonder with the world.”

Becoming a Whale Heritage Site is so much more than just a badge. It’s a vision for the future; a pledge to our children and children’s children. It’s a beacon for the global protection of whales and dolphins and it’s the gold standard for how sustainable practices and marine conservation can combine to support economic development.

Your area, your community and your corner of the world has great potential to become a world-class Whale Heritage Site destination and it may be a lot easier than you think. We are here to provide you with all the guidance and support you need to become a Candidate Site. Each potential site will have its unique means to satisfy the criteria. If you want to explore the possibility of becoming a Whale Heritage Site further or learn anything more about the criteria or the process itself, then get in touch with the WCA team today.

By Marie Harrington

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“The Evolution of a Region: A Sea Change for Durban’s Former Whaling Industry.” https://whaleheritagesites.org/the-evolution-of-a-region-a-sea-change-for-durbans-former-whaling-industry/ Tue, 01 Sep 2020 19:14:58 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=4180 The post “The Evolution of a Region: A Sea Change for Durban’s Former Whaling Industry.” appeared first on Whale Heritage Sites.

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The Bluff is a coastal suburb that forms part of the port of Durban on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and with its stunning landscapes and an abundance of wildlife on both land and sea it’s considered a natural paradise. Nowadays it’s a picture of serenity, but it wasn’t always like this. Almost 200 years of whaling that began in the late 18th century saw humpback whale populations decimated. Thousands of migratory whales were harvested and slaughtered in the area off Durban’s coast which gave rise to one of the largest land-based whaling operations in the world. It is estimated that there was only a maximum of 600 humpback whales remaining when whaling eventually ceased in 1975. This was followed by a global ban on commercial whaling in 1986. Since then, these magnificent and charismatic mammals have started to recover in great numbers in this region after being hunted to near extinction. 

The annual migration of humpback whales along the 1,200-mile coast of South Africa now provides some of the best whale-watching experiences in the world. At one time, not so long ago, it was unimaginable that this beautiful corner of the world would give rise to such a thriving responsible whale-watching tourist industry. In just two generations, whales in this region have gone from being relentlessly hunted to passionately protected. The Bluff’s rich heritage and long whaling history are forever captured in the museum that has been transformed from the old whaling station, which now serves to educate the public about wildlife and the importance of ocean conservation.

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The tide has well and truly turned, and the relationship between humans and cetaceans in this area has seen the most remarkable evolution from the hunter and the hunted to respectful co-existence. A tragic history has now been succeeded by the highest accolade in protection and conservation for both whales and dolphins.

 This was an incredible two-year mission to achieve Whale Heritage Site status for The Bluff. A collaborative effort by a team of dedicated and passionate individuals and local organisations, working towards achieving positive change and the ultimate goal of putting The Bluff front and centre for the conservation and preservation of cetaceans.

Influenced by the success of the World Whale Conference held in Durban in 2017, Helga Du Preez, chairperson of Sorduba, a community tourism organisation in the eThekwini municipality of Durban and vice-chairperson Melissa Lee, were leaders in the campaign to bid for Whale Heritage Site status. Diligently supported by Rachel Kramer of Wild Oceans (formerly the National Coalition for Marine Conservation or NCMC), Matthew Cocks of WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), JP Prisloo, Ward Councillor for The Bluff area and The Bluff Steering Committee, the two-year project finally culminated in success. The dream was realised and in 2019 The Bluff became one of the first Whale Heritage Sites in the world, the first and only in Africa, flying the flag for this diverse and wildlife-rich continent.

Sodurba at Maritime Museum - Durban Harbour Festival

Sodurba at Maritime Museum - Durban Harbour Festival

And so, “Whale Coast” was born. Durban now celebrates its cultural heritage and connection to whales by hosting the annual ‘Welcoming of the Whales’ festival. Last year this was attended by over 6,000 people. The streets are closed and families and communities come together to celebrate the iconic whales that grace their shores. Painted murals and sculptures are on show, many contributed by local artists who are afforded a popular platform to showcase their talents. A 3 m long humpback whale effigy which was affectionately named “Destiny” was unveiled at the most recent festival. The model has been decorated with recycled plastic bottle tops representing the eco-conscious values of the community and highlighting the rising problem of plastic in our oceans.

With the Whale Heritage Site accolade drawing increased attention to The Bluff as a premier destination for whale-watching, the focus is now very much on promoting responsible and sustainable tourism and building on the reputation gained by the hard work and tireless efforts of those who saw the potential. The marketing drive, spearheaded by Sorduba will create many jobs, attract increased investment to the area and help to build partnerships.

The achievement of the Whale Heritage Site status is of immeasurable importance to the communities, authorities and organisations that represent this region. This has contributed to greater research on cetacean populations in the area and has helped to change attitudes towards the environment, ocean habitat preservation and the importance of protecting cetaceans. The increased regulations and guidelines from local governments to promote the effective management and monitoring of the whale-watching industry has raised the profile of The Bluff as a major tourist destination for whale enthusiasts.

Whaling once formed a lucrative trade and was a significant contributor to the local economy in this area. Now, an increased investment in whale-watching infrastructure that supports the growing eco-tourism industry will surpass that. Not only will the great whales themselves survive and thrive, but the local community will continue to benefit from all that is good about these remarkable creatures. Conservation is a gift to my children and to theirs.” Those are the poignant and inspiring words of Tim Choate, Chair of Wild Oceans.

Art Project with Eden College and sponsors

Art Project with Eden College and sponsors

Whales and dolphins will continue to face challenges. Pollution, entanglements, ship strikes and climate change are just a few of the numerous threats they face. The Whale Heritage Site certification is just one initiative that shows us that with a local focus underpinned by global co-operation, we can promote awareness, affect hearts and minds and impact real change through education, sustainability and conservation.

It is hoped that examples set by The Bluff in achieving this gold standard in the protection of cetaceans and their habitats will inspire other coastal areas and communities to follow in their fluke prints. A country’s most valuable tourism asset is its image and whilst the whaling legacy remains, the future is nothing but positive for this extraordinary region.

To find out more about the Whale Heritage Site initiative and The Bluff, Durban, contact us and visit the website.

Written by Marie Harrington

The Bluff first Whale Art Piece

The Bluff first Whale Art Piece

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“Pride of Queensland: The Journey to Whale Heritage Site Status” https://whaleheritagesites.org/pride-of-queensland-the-journey-to-whale-heritage-site-status/ Tue, 01 Sep 2020 18:26:25 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=4148 The post “Pride of Queensland: The Journey to Whale Heritage Site Status” appeared first on Whale Heritage Sites.

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Hervey Bay, a coastal city in southern Queensland is home to some 52,000 residents and, during the winter months, approximately 8,000 migrating humpback whales. Sheltered by the coast of Fraser Island, Hervey Bay is an ideal resting spot for the whales and their calves as they take a detour off the humpback highway to relax, play and rejuvenate and as a result, this area is renowned for being one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.

Hervey Bay started offering commercial whale-watching tours in the mid-1980s and today attracts tens of thousands of tourists and contributes over $11million each year to the local economy but this is so much more than just a great place to go whale watching. In October 2019, Hervey Bay became the first ever Whale Heritage Site and today is one of only two in the world.

The Whale Heritage Site initiative is a global certification programme established by the World Cetacean Alliance. It formally recognises those places that support and demonstrate the importance of cetaceans through culture, education, research and conservation.

 

Whilst whales and dolphins are at the heart of global sustainable tourism, whale-watching as an activity or ecotourism product is a community level industry. To the Hervey Bay community, the whales that grace the tranquil coastal waters are not just a tourist attraction, they are an inherent part of the culture. These majestic and charismatic mammals are celebrated, protected and are ingrained in the heritage and traditions of a proud community

Becoming a designated whale heritage site is more than an industry award, it’s a journey. Like the journeys of the great whales themselves, it is challenging and requires communication, collaboration and a lot of hard work.

When people come together with shared values and goals, something very special happens.

Coretta Scott King, American author and wife of Martin Luther King Jr. said, “the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate action of its members.” Those involved in the Hervey Bay application process experienced an overwhelming sense of pride in achieving this status for the corner of the world they represent. Local Government officials, NGOs, researchers, representatives of Hervey Bay tourism boards, local business, tour companies and citizen scientists all played their part. Hundreds of pages of evidence were gathered, critical research work was presented and valuable information was shared in support of the criteria underpinning the accreditation.  

Paddle out for the Whales

Local researcher and humpback whale expert Wally Franklin described the achievement as an “absolutely amazing outcome and incredibly deserved by Hervey Bay. The accreditation is only a stop along the journey and provides a very strong and clear focus of what we need to be giving attention to in the future.”

 The criteria may be stringent and the process rigorous but anything worth having is worth working for. Many Whale Heritage Site candidates may be surprised at how much they are already doing in support of the initiative already without it being formally recognised. This is an accreditation that is attainable for all prospective candidates, particularly with the help and support provided at each and every stage by the World Cetacean Alliance and the network that exists around it.

Collaboration is borderless. The whales and dolphins know no barriers so why should we when it comes to protecting them? Community initiatives such as this have a positive impact on conservation. Bringing diverse groups of people together to focus on the bigger picture is at the very heart of what this process is about.

Hervey Bay is an area of both regional and global significance with a unique community connection to whales and dolphins. The Whale Heritage Site accreditation has brought an almost iconic status to the area and proudly reflects the dedication and passion of those who worked tirelessly to make this a reality.

The recognition this region has gained as a result of this process has presented a major marketing opportunity in promoting the growth of eco and edutourism.

This has undoubtedly attracted the attention of the environmentally-conscious traveller and has positively impacted the economic value of tourism to Hervey Bay. The protection of this critical habitat and of the oceans in general is firmly in the spotlight and will help to ensure that both the whales and the tourists keep coming back for generations to come.

This is not simply about taking holidaymakers out on boats and observing whales in a responsible manner. This is an all-encompassing and continuous process that focuses on celebrating the close cultural associations between humans and cetaceans, environmental, social and economic sustainability and a perpetual commitment to research, education and awareness

Outstanding practices that support whale and dolphin conservation should be formally recognised and rewarded. Community spirit, pride and a sense of being a part of something special already exists in many regions where cetaceans are celebrated and protected. It is hoped that Hervey Bay’s achievements will inspire others to embark on their own great migratory route towards Whale Heritage Site designation. Each and every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.

To find out more about the Whale Heritage Site initiative and Hervey Bay, contact us and visit the website.

Written by Marie Harrington 

Humback Whale Breaching

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Franja Marina Teno-Rasca in South Tenerife has become a Candidate Site! https://whaleheritagesites.org/franja-marina-teno-rasca/ Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:53:14 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=4104 The post Franja Marina Teno-Rasca in South Tenerife has become a Candidate Site! appeared first on Whale Heritage Sites.

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WCA and World Animal Protection are excited to announce that Franja Marina Teno-Rasca in South Tenerife is now a candidate Whale Heritage Site (WHS). This means that they are one important step closer to joining a very exclusive and growing list of locations, as a world cs responsible whale and dolphin watching destination and Europe’s first and leading Whale Heritage Site. 

World Animal Protection is playing a pivotal role in this partnership by providing financial and technical support to enable the Whale Heritage Sites programme.

“As an animal welfare organisation, establishing a WHS site in a mainstream destination like Tenerife will allow us to show the way forward for the travel industry and the only way tourists should be experiencing these marine mammals”, mentioned Nick Stewart, Global Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection.

There are certain criteria that candidate destinations must meet to qualify for this global accreditation, recognising their responsible and sustainable whale and dolphin watching. These include:

  • Encouraging Respectful Human-Cetacean Coexistence
  • Celebrating Cetaceans
  • Environmental, Social and Economic Sustainability
  • Research, education and awareness

Franja Marina Teno-Rasca has a decades long tradition of whale-watching, thanks to the 28 species of cetacean that inhabit its pristine waters throughout the year, including a resident population of the fascinating short-finned pilot whale. It is therefore unsurprising that whale and dolphin watching is the second-most popular activity for tourists visiting the island, generating an estimated €42 million revenue annually from 1.4 million tourists (data from Cabildo de Tenerife).

The importance of this industry to the local area is reflected in the local and national regulatory frameworks, which provide formal protection of the marine ecosystem in two ways: there are two Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and a strong legislative framework protecting cetaceans.

This WHS initiative in Tenerife has been driven by ACEST (Association of Cetaceans South of Tenerife), an association of several whale watching tour operator companies, which promotes good practices and works closely with research groups. Their objective is to promote the responsible use of the ocean and ensure the protection and conservation of marine resources.

Becoming a Whale Heritage Site will ensure that visitors to Franja Marina Teno-Rasca will be assured that they are investing in a destination that celebrates its natural history and shares a sense of connection between local residents and cetaceans. The vision and purpose of a WHS is that businesses, academics, and NGOs all work in partnership with local residents and government to safeguard this relationship.

It is clear that Franja Marina Teno-Rasca, Tenerife has the potential to become a world-class responsible whale and dolphin watching destination.

“We have no doubt that the WHS scheme will bring prosperity to the community and be an example of the successful partnership of conservation and the tourism industry. Visitors to the island and travel companies alike will be able to confidently choose whale and dolphin watching excursions in Tenerife safe in the knowledge that they will be experiencing wildlife in the most responsible way possible”, mentioned Elizabeth Cuevas, Whale Heritage Sites Manager at WCA.

Click here if you would like to find out more. (link to the report: “Franja Marina Teno-Rasca: Exploring the potential for Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site in Tenerife”)

(All photos Courtesy of Dylan Walker)

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The Bluff strives to be world’s first Whale Heritage Site https://whaleheritagesites.org/the-bluff-strives-to-be-worlds-first-whale-heritage-site/ Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:30:01 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=2549 Congratulations to Candidate Whale Heritage Site The Bluff, Durban, South Africa, for the really great progress they are making towards accreditation. Enhancing the site with creative and original initiatives, the team have made fantastic progress towards developing ocean literacy and sustainable practices since they achieved Candidate Site status in 2017.    The KZN Whale Coast, […]

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Congratulations to Candidate Whale Heritage Site The Bluff, Durban, South Africa, for the really great progress they are making towards accreditation. Enhancing the site with creative and original initiatives, the team have made fantastic progress towards developing ocean literacy and sustainable practices since they achieved Candidate Site status in 2017.

   The KZN Whale Coast, for example, is a tourism route that will bring together information on science, conservation, tourism, and local communities around viewpoints for the iconic humpback whales.

In order to achieve this goal, organisers Sodurba will place several whale-shaped benches and information boards along coastal viewing points to improve the whale watching experience as whales pass by very close to shore during the migration season. We really look forward to seeing these artistic benches soon!

Celebrating cetaceans is a must for our friends on The Bluff, particularly during the Welcoming of the Whales Festival next taking place in June 2019. In its third year, it is hoped that the festival will be bigger than ever, extending the celebration over three days and closing off Foreshore Drive to have a street festival showcasing stalls and providing entertainment for all.

The event not only provides fun for the whole family but also educates everyone on the conservation of cetaceans, marine and beach life, and creates awareness about how everyone can play a role in marine conservation.

Previous artistic projects at the event included ‘Destiny’, a three metre long whale sculpture made of plastic bottle tops, constructed by local people including local students.

The Bluff Steering Committee is planning to complete its application for Whale Heritage Site status in time for an on-site audit in June 2019 during the Welcoming of the Whales Festival. We wish them luck with their final preparations!

 

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The Bluff, Durban, announced as Africa’s first candidate Whale Heritage Site! https://whaleheritagesites.org/the-bluff-durban-announced-africas-first-candidate-whale-heritage-site/ Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:11:58 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=2472   Following the World Whale Conference, which took place in Durban in June 2017, a team led by Sodurba, South Durban Tourism and WILDOCEANS WhaleTime project have set their sights on developing The Bluff as Africa’s first Whale Heritage Site. “Whale Heritage Sites are becoming the gold standard for responsible whale watching destinations worldwide,” said […]

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Following the World Whale Conference, which took place in Durban in June 2017, a team led by Sodurba, South Durban Tourism and WILDOCEANS WhaleTime project have set their sights on developing The Bluff as Africa’s first Whale Heritage Site.

“Whale Heritage Sites are becoming the gold standard for responsible whale watching destinations worldwide,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, the honorary president of the World Cetacean Alliance, which runs the initiative.

“By interweaving natural and cultural elements and placing communities at their very heart, these sites will become places where people respect, celebrate, and protect cetaceans and their habitats long into the future.”

The Bluff, Durban, joins four world renowned whale watching destinations and sites in need of special protection that have applied for Whale Heritage Site status. They are North Vancouver Island (Canada), Hervey Bay (Australia), Marlborough Sounds (New Zealand), and Jurubatiba (Brazil).

“We have been hugely impressed with the community of people living and working on The Bluff, and their desire to retain their heritage and links with whales and dolphins through festivals, trails, guided walks, and whale watching opportunities,” said Dylan Walker, World Cetacean Alliance Chief Executive.

Last year, Sodurba hosted its first ever whale festival, which was held at Anstey’s Beach, and had over 1000 people attend. Members of the community enjoyed many activities from rocky shore walks to educational talks to giveaways, not to mention the sight of local humpback whales breaching right in front of the event!

The chairman of Sodurba, Helga du Preez, said the drive for The Bluff to become a Whale Heritage Site was being supported by WILDOCEANS WhaleTime project – a citizen science initiative which engages the public in monitoring the annual migration of whales along the KZN coast.

WhaleTime is an innovative project that aims to bring science, conservation, tourism and community together around an iconic species, the Humpback Whale. It provides a platform for a coastal community-based “citizen science” movement, capturing and uploading photos of whales spotted out at sea, which are then identified by experts. This will ultimately contribute to a bigger census that will help us better understand the potential growth of the whale population, their distribution, and behaviour patterns.

With The Bluff hosting what was once the largest land-based whaling station in the world, WhaleTime project manager Rachel Kramer believes that the city’s whaling past could be developed into a signature eco-tourism enterprise. Sodurba have been working on making the Old Whaling Station a Heritage Site and Eco Tourism Hub point, where we can share with the world our great history by taking tourists and guests down to this point and offering them tours to and from our ocean.

 

We have recently launched our Whale Watching Route – to develop and uphold responsible tourism. We already have educational projects in place to inform and educate our local children to protect our planet and our cetaceans. We have a plan in place to promote conservation and responsible tourism, and tourism projects are in place with the local community to promote business and employment opportunities.

“Our Local Municipal Tourism Department is supporting us in this venture,” said Whale Time’s Rachel Kramer. “The biggest Whaling Station in the days gone by is situated in our area. Our vision is to turn this site into a Museum and showcase how we have evolved and become protectors and admirers of our whales.”

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Thirty three potential WHS identified in Africa https://whaleheritagesites.org/thirty-three-potential-whs-identified-in-africa/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:13:29 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=1499 The World Cetacean Alliance recently completed an online survey of stakeholders to identify ‘Areas of Interest’ for Whale Heritage Sites across Africa. Whale Heritage Site (WHS) status is granted to those places around the world where cetaceans are celebrated through art, education, research and cultural events; where sustainable practices and livelihoods are continually improved to […]

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The World Cetacean Alliance recently completed an online survey of stakeholders to identify ‘Areas of Interest’ for Whale Heritage Sites across Africa.

Whale Heritage Site (WHS) status is granted to those places around the world where cetaceans are celebrated through art, education, research and cultural events; where sustainable practices and livelihoods are continually improved to ensure the health of cetacean habitats and the long-term economic health of human communities; and where respectful coexistence with cetaceans is supported through law, policy and cooperation.

 

The full report can be downloaded here:

 

 

In summary, the survey highlighted the following:
  1. Thirty three Areas of Interest were identified across 22 African countries.
  2. Respondents included: Whale watch industry 18.4%, NGOs 15.8%, Travel industry 11.8%, Universities 6.6%, and Local authority 5.3%
  3. Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus / aduncus) were listed most regularly.
  4. Of 35 cetacean species reported across the Areas of Interest, IUCN list 3 species as Endangered, 1 species as Near Threatened, 2 species as Vulnerable, 14 species as Data Deficient, and 15 species are of Least Concern.
  5. The top four impacts on cetaceans were listed as: 1. Fishing practices (including bycatch); 2. Pollution; 3. Noise pollution; and 4. Ocean plastics.
  6. African respondents highlighted the following strengths in meeting the WHS criteria:
  • Application of responsible whale watching guidelines, with commercial operators supporting research programmes.
  • Ancient cultural links with cetaceans; historical whaling heritage; artistic associations; and whale festivals.
  • Cetacean related education programmes delivered to local communities.
  • Cetacean based conservation research and policy.
  • Sustainable livelihoods are created, generating local employment, local communities take part in decisions, and responsible tourism management ensures active and ongoing improvement towards sustainability.
  • Marine and terrestrial ecosystems are maintained and enhanced.

 

The survey results were presented at the Whale Heritage Sites Summit, Durban, South Africa, on 28-29 June 2017 by Graham Drucker (compiled by Beth Hinton), WCA Secretariat. A workshop followed in which we tested the criteria for Whale Heritage Sites on a number of African sites and found that it was possible for these sites to meet the criteria even if financial and other resources were limited.

For more information about Whale Heritage Sites contact WHS@worldcetaceanalliance.org

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LAUNCH: WCA Responsible Whale Watching App https://whaleheritagesites.org/launch-wca-responsible-whale-watching-app/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:58:41 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=1459 The World Cetacean Alliance are proud to announce the launch of the world’s first responsible whale watching app! ‘WCA Responsible Whale Watching’ lists information for over 30 responsible whale and dolphin watching Partners, with key information on species seen, descriptions of tours, and case studies on their responsible whale watching practices! The app is currently […]

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The World Cetacean Alliance are proud to announce the launch of the world’s first responsible whale watching app!

‘WCA Responsible Whale Watching’ lists information for over 30 responsible whale and dolphin watching Partners, with key information on species seen, descriptions of tours, and case studies on their responsible whale watching practices!

The app is currently available for all android phones. For more information or to download go to:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bf.app7e64c5&hl=en

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Update from Vancouver Island North https://whaleheritagesites.org/update-from-vancouver-island-north/ Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:49:13 +0000 https://whaleheritagesites.org/?p=1456 Vancouver Island North – a candidate Whale Heritage Site, includes the traditional territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, whose connection to the Max’inux or killer whale can be traced back through generations, not only through art, song and dance, but also through the verbal history of the Max’inux clan, whose ancestors are said to have […]

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Vancouver Island North – a candidate Whale Heritage Site, includes the traditional territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, whose connection to the Max’inux or killer whale can be traced back through generations, not only through art, song and dance, but also through the verbal history of the Max’inux clan, whose ancestors are said to have descended from killer whales.

Northern Vancouver Island is the habitat of eight species of cetacean and is a global trendsetter for whale research, responsible whale watching and conservation. In this video, responsible whale watch expert Andrew Jones (Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures) and researcher Jared Towers (North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA)) discuss the area and the Whale Heritage Site accreditation process.

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