Between the months of May and December each year, the Southern African Coast becomes one of the world’s greatest whale highways. Humpback, Bryde’s and Southern Right Whales are amongst those that frequent the route extending between Cape Town and Durban as well as an abundance of other wildlife from Bottlenose Dolphins to Cape Fur Seals.
This year, Lloyd Edwards of Raggy Charters marine eco tour company has asked communities up and down the coast to host festivals and presentations to celebrate the arrival of the whales along their migratory route. The events covered topics relating to the conservation and ongoing protection of whales and other marine life, this year focusing on the impact of plastic pollution. There were presentations from Ronelle Friend on the shift towards a zero plastic waste society and Lloyd Edwards on the migration of humpbacks. Schools within communities also got involved with projects connected to the festivals. This included a parade to raise awareness of marine life, for which they made floats using recyclable materials.
The Russel Hotel, Knysna hosted the first of the events, soon followed by celebrations in Algoa Bay and Port Alfred. Surrounding the festivals, visitors often had opportunities to do whale spotting, beach cleans and participate in whale-themed art projects. This is a wonderful example of the impact an individual can have in promoting the celebration and protection of cetaceans and it is hoped that the festivals will grow in coming years.