PE Whale Festival Celebrates Humanity’s Biggest Marine Life Success Stories (Plus 16 More Along the East Coast)
WATCH: The first humpback arrives and breaches in Algoa Bay, kicking off whale watching season ahead of the 2nd annual Port Elizabeth Whale Festival next Sunday 16 June
Update: 15 June 2019
Whale spotting, boat cruises and guided whale watching in Algoa Bay. Whale art and exhibitions, stalls, food, beach clean-ups, an inter-tidal community beach walk, insightful talks and how our humpback whales bounced back from the brink of extinction. There are so many awesome things to do at the Port Elizabeth Whale Festival happening Sunday 16 June 2019.
Now in its 2nd year, the PE Whale Festival starts from 9am, and there’s a whole host of FREE and fun activities for the whole family to enjoy as we welcome back the whales to Algoa Bay at the whale festival held at Pine Lodge on Marine Drive in Port Elizabeth.
Plus: Look out for 16 more whale festivals all along SA’s East Coast, from Port Alfred to Durban, St Lucia and Sodwana to Ponta Do Ouro in Mozambique an all the way up to Kenya – following the entire humpback whale northern migration route this whale watching season.
But first, the whales are back in Algoa Bay, and they’re loving it here.
WATCH: THE FIRST WHALE OF 2019 – AMAZING WHALE BREACHING VIDEO
This stunning video of a humpback whale – the first to arrive in Algoa Bay in 2019 – not only swimming but breaching, was captured in May 2019 on a Raggy Charters whale cruise near Port Elizabeth:
Humpback whales normally start coming past Algoa Bay from the beginning of June. They seem to be coming past earlier every year. Could global warming be the cause?This was the first one we encountered this year as per our previous post. Thanks to Ronelle for the video.
Posted by Raggy Charters – Marine-Eco Cruises on Friday, 17 May 2019
And that’s one of the main reasons to come to the Whale Festival in Port Elizabeth: to welcome back the humpback whales – whose bounce-back from near-extinction is one of humanity’s greatest marine life success stories.
THINGS TO DO AT THE PORT ELIZABETH WHALE FESTIVAL 2019
From 9am at Pine Lodge, there’s an exciting day planned that includes loads of whale art exhibitions and stalls – keep an eye out for Suzuki Marine SA and Nauti-Tech Suzuki at the fest. Browse loads of exciting products and get real insights into whale migrations and behaviours, as well as some important and fun environmental education for the whole family. And entry is FREE.
The kids can play and there are food and beverages enough to make it a fun Father’s Day outing (it falls on the same Sunday!). There’s a big beach clean-up planned where everyone can join in, or just relax and take an inter-tidal beach walk with the whole community, led by experts on marine life – and especially whales. Speaking of whales, of course, there’s going to be plenty of wonderful whale watching.
WHALE WATCHING AT THE PORT ELIZABETH WHALE FESTIVAL
Humpbacks, Minke Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Southern Rights. There are plenty of whales in Port Elizabeth and all along SA’s coast this time of year. And, at the PE Whale Festival, you’ll have the unique opportunity to join whale watching sessions from the old hidden forts of Cape Recife. With experts on hand, and, of course, it won’t just be whales you’ll see: dolphins, penguins, Cape fur seals – there’s a host of marine to see in the rich waters of Algo Bay.
That’s in the morning, but there are (weather permitting) some whale watching boats available for the afternoon, so you’ll be able to take a whale watching boat cruise too. And there are plenty of experts on hand to educate and deliver exciting talks throughout the day.
EXPERT INSIGHTS: THE NORTHERN MIGRATION OF OUR HUMPBACK WHALES
Did you know that the humpbacks that migrate up SA’s east coast travel 4000km all the way from Antarctica to Kenya every year? It’s one of the largest migrations on Earth, and it takes them 6–7 months to complete. And, they don’t eat at all during that whole time – our humpbacks feast on the spoils of the Antarctic and then fast for up to 7 months while they migrate.
This is the kind of remarkable insights that Lloyd Edwards from PE Whale Festival organisers Raggy Charters is sharing in his scintillating look at the northern migration patterns of SA’s humpback whales.
“It’s one of the most remarkable migrations in the world”, Lloyd says. “And what makes it extra special for us is that humpback whales are one of humanity’s biggest marine-life-preservation successes.
“These amazing creatures were hunted to the brink of extinction and, by the 60s and 70s it looked like they would disappear off the Earth altogether. But then there was a major paradigm shift and the whole world banded together to protect the humpbacks. And today their numbers are restored to 95% of what they originally were.
“That’s the biggest success we humans have ever had in restoring a marine species. And it shows we can do amazing things, if we want to.”
INCREDIBLE INFO: THE IMPACT OF PLASTIC POLLUTION ON THE OCEAN (AND US)
Another experience you don’t want to miss is SA environmental-impact experts Enviro-Quest’s Ronelle Friend’s look at plastic in our oceans. “We don’t even know for sure how much plastic is in our water in South Africa, nor how it’s affecting us,” says Ronelle.
“We know that 90% of everyone over the age of 7 in America have a dangerous plastic called BPA inside their bodies, but what are the figures here in SA? Remember that plastic breaks down into microplastic, tiny particles you can’t even see with the naked eye. And that gets into everything – it’s inside our fish and all the sea creatures that we harvest and consume.
“Whales feed on plankton, and those microplastics filter in and has devastating effects on these amazing creatures.”
Ronelle leads an exciting talk around plastic, with a beach clean-up and she shares some incredible facts about how industries like the automotive industry have done amazing things to curb plastic. She explains why restaurants are doing away with plastic straws – and why we should insist that even more do awya with it. And she helps little ones and families find ways to minimise our plastic use every day.
16 MORE NEW WHALE FESTIVALS OF 2019
Port Elizabeth is not the only whale festival of this kind this year. “We are following the entire northern migration route of the humpback whales this year,” says an excited Lloyd, “which means we’ll be doing whale festivals all along SA’s east coast, all the way through Mozambique and into Kenya.”
We have some of the dates confirmed below:
KNYSNA WHALE FESTIVAL
6 June 2019 at the Russel Hotel in Graham Street
PORT ELIZABETH WHALE FESTIVAL
Sunday 16 June at Pine Lodge in PE
PORT ALFRED WHALES FESTIVAL
19 June at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club
MORE WHALE FESTIVALS ALONG THE EASTERN CAPE
- Cape St Francis*
- East London*
TRANSKEI WHALE FESTIVAL
27 June at the Trennerys Hotel in the Transkei
DURBAN WHALE FESTIVAL
29 June in Foreshore Drive (it’s a street festival) on the Bluff
MORE WHALE FESTIVALS IN KZN
- Kob Inn*
- Coffee Bay*
- Port St Johns*
- St Lucia*
Plus: 3 whale festivals in Mozambique, including on at Ponto Du Ouro, and 4 more in Kenya all the way up to Watamu.*
*We don’t have specific dates for these festivals. For more info, contact Raggy Charters on 073 152 2277.
PLUS: WHALE WATCHING AND THINGS TO DO IN PORT ELIZABETH
Whale watching season in PE
The best time for whale watching in Port Elizabeth and Algoa Bay is, as in most places in SA, during winter. The whales usually arrive in June (although this year they were spotted as early as May) and are usually around until November.
There’s a lot of fun to be had on the water in PE. And the whale festival organisers, Raggy Charters are known for doing exciting boat cruises in Algoa Bay. From penguin and dolphin cruises to whale watching and even shark tours. In fact, you might remember that Nauti-Tech Suzuki fitted the engines onto Raggy Charter’s new boat when they became the first organisation to be awarded the licence to do shark cage diving in PE.
How Algoa Bay got its name
Originally named Angra da Roca (Portuguese “bay of rocks”) by Bartolomeu Dias who planted a cross on Santa Cruz island in 1488, the bay’s name changed later to Bahia da Lagoa, which means “bay of lakes” in Portuguese. The “Lagoa” was later colloquialised to Algoa. And the name Algoa Bay was born.
Fishing in Port Elizabeth
PE is an awesome place for deep sea angling. It’s rich in both bottom fish and game fish species like tuna. You can charter a boat or check in with the local ski-boat clubs: there are Noordhoek club and Port Elizabeth Deep Sea Angling Club, PEDSAC, which is known for their efforts in bottom fish conservation.
PORT ELIZABETH WHALE FESTIVAL
Sunday 16 June 2019
Pine Lodge, Marine Drive, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth (041 583 4004)
Hosted by Raggy Charters, Enviro-Quest
More info, phone: 073 152 2277
Check out the new motors we fitted to marine research vessel uKwabelana.
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