Category Archives: News

The Southern African Humpback Migration Route.

Our 1st Welcoming of the Whales festival in 2017 inspired the beginning of The Southern African Humpback Whale Migration Route and festivals see below.

The route is under the auspices of the World Cetacean Alliance https://worldcetaceanalliance.org/

They are the largest organisation in the world who look after the welfare of whales and dolphins. The organisers are busy linking it to the WCA Whale Heritage Sites Project and urge larger organisations to join. Last year was supposed to be the launch of the Southern Hemisphere Humpback Route but were thwarted by COVID-19. With Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Brazil, Argentina and Chile on the cards. See the logo – the idea being to link up the whole Southern Hemisphere and stand together on any threats facing cetaceans (like the resumption of whaling, ship strikes or marine plastic pollution).

Elephant Seal found by locals on KZN Whale Coast – Garvies Beach, Bluff

Post as per Saambr Organisation

“And then there were two!

On Friday morning (12th February) we awoke to messages informing us of a beached elephant seal on Garvies Beach which is on the Bluff in Durban. Our first thoughts were bewilderment at the arrival of yet another Antarctic seal visitor so close to Ragnar’s arrival.

Then to more practical thoughts as to how to relocate a 130 kilogram seal from Garvies Beach to uShaka Sea World. Members of the Metro Search & Rescue, SAPS Search and Rescue, NSRI and Ethekwini lifeguards once again came to the rescue and transported the seal to us.

His arrival caused quite a dilemma as all the available rehabilitation pools were already occupied and we were uncertain whether he would be able to peacefully share Ragnar’s enclosure. He was visually examined in his transport crate and then left to rest and recover whilst the seal and animal health teams set about researching Antarctic seal behaviour. It was clearly evident that he had sustained an injury to the lower jaw which we hoped was merely a superficial laceration.

When he looked at the team with his big dark pleading eyes, it seemed appropriate to call him Dobby after the house elf in Harry Potter.

Over the weekend, upon learning from seal expert, Dr Greg Hofmeyer that it would be in order to place the two Antarctic seals together, we introduced Dobby to Ragnar. It was Ragnar who seemed genuinely pleased at the arrival of a companion. Dobby merely rested on the side of the pool, opened and closed his big eyes and seemed oblivious to Ragnar’s numerous snuggling attempts.

They were later seen swimming in the pool together and we knew that all would be well.

Dobby will have to remain in our care until he has completed his moult (which can last up to four weeks). Elephant seals don’t usually feed or swim whilst they are moulting and spend the month lying around on the islands sleeping. Dobby spends his days doing just that, sleeping.

Being true seals both Dobby and Ragnar have signature big dark eyes and snotty noses and it’s easy to understand how easily they have crept into the hearts of everyone who played, or is currently playing, a role their rescue and rehabilitation.
We will keep you updated on their progress.”

Please follow Saambr social media pages for all the updates on Dobby.

Destiny island

20th August 2020

Destiny is our 2nd Public Art Piece, from the Welcoming of the Whales Festival. 

The piece is 3m long and was designed by Umcebo Design. 

Her armature was constructed by Fabricon Holdings with additional sponsorship from CMH Kempster Ford South, as our two anchor sponsors.

Educational initiatives and art projects, the creation of Destiny Island are to promote conservation as well as being an attraction along the Whale Heritage Route.

“We built the piece with the students at Eden College using a design by Mike McFadyean and are so pleased to see Sodurba and Fabricon installing it so beautifully. An example of effective creative waste management said Robin Opperman.” 

The piece is very important as it not only showcases public art and recycling, but it educates the public on the importance of whales in our ecosystem and global ecology.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors and have placed a board acknowledging their assistance, at “her” island, Destiny Island, on the corner of Grays Inn and Marine Drive, Bluff. 

We would also like to mention a thank you to Toyota Boshoku South Africa for the beautiful landscaping that they completed and St. Margaret’s Church Bluff for adopting the spot, which they will maintain and look after Destiny island.

“Destiny Island is a very important part of our Whale Heritage Route which starts at the Maritime Museum and ends at the View Points which have been established along our KZN Whale Coast. 

Said Helga du Preez Chairlady of Sodurba CTO”

Looking Back at Welcoming of the Whales Festival

What would have been our 4th annual Welcoming of the Whales Festival & we are devastated that we couldn’t have it this year due to COVID-19 epidemic.
HOWEVER we have done a throwback to our last 3 years & thought we would share how much this festival means to Sodurba and the protection of our Humpback Whales past our Whale Heritage Site. Follow us for further updates.

Bluff, Durban achieves International Whale Heritage Site Status

Spearheaded by Helga du Preez and Melissa Lee, of Soul of South Durban (SODURBA) Community Tourism Association, the campaign to bid for Whale Heritage Site status for eThekwini has seen fruition.  Inspired by the World Whale Conference held in Durban in June 2017, du Preez, supported by WILDOCEANS’ Rachel Kramer, Matthew Cocks of WESSA and Bluff ward councillor JP Prinsloo worked assiduously with the Bluff Steering Committee to meet the criteria required by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) to apply for certification.

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Established by the WCA, Whale Heritage Sites are an initiative aimed at increasing the protection and conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and their habitats while also contributing to sustainable livelihoods, the arts, science and education.

image1Whale 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. Whale Heritage Sites are high sea or coastal marine areas, and less often freshwater rivers and lakes, where cetaceans live, and the associated land areas. Whale Heritage Sites are identified against criteria that interweave natural and cultural elements and acknowledge critical places that, for reasons of physical and social geography, are sites where people can coexist with cetaceans in an authentic and respectful way. “Whale Heritage Sites are becoming the gold standard for responsible whale watching destinations worldwide,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, honorary president of the World Cetacean Alliance, which runs the certification initiative.

Accreditation as a Whale Heritage Site brings regional, national, and global attention to the area and helps to promote sustainable tourism, marine conservation, and the whale-related cultural heritage of coastal communities.  Out of nine international applications only two where successfully, the Bluff in Durban (South Africa) and Hervey Bay in Australia.  The potential economic impact on the South Durban Basin and eThekwini as a whole is tremendous and will be embraced by all stakeholders who will benefit from the steering committee’s achievement. Only two such sites exist in the world and the Bluff is one of them. “This can be a strategic job creator and investment opportunity in our city and community. Given the difficult economic climate and high unemployment rate such an opportunity should be widely embraced. This is also a chance for us to keep building towards our vision of making the Bluff a Green Community,” said JP Prinsloo, ward councillor for the Bluff area.

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The Bluff offers an historic whaling station and many opportunities for whale and dolphin watching along the extensive coast.  This presents an opportunity for tourists to take a cultural and environmental journey from the cruel, irresponsible activities of commercial whaling to the respect these magnificent animals now deserve from conservation authorities around the world.

The future success of the Whale Heritage Site status will rely heavily on building partnerships and getting private investment. Another key success factor will be the response by the city of eThekwini and their drive towards supporting this fledgling industry. The combined efforts of SODURBA, WILDOCEANS (a programme of the WILDTRUST), WESSA Treasure Beach, the councillor and local municipal officials has proved successful. These successes include an annual Welcoming of the Whales Festival attended by more than 6000 people in 2019, a Whale Sports festival, establishing view sites, whale themed art installations along the whale heritage route and a 3m whale sculpture called Destiny.

Dylan Walker, CEO of the World Cetacean Alliance said, “We would like to thank The Bluff Steering Committee for the outstanding work undertaken that has culminated in this certification.  We view the Bluff as a wonderful example of how a small, but dedicated, group of people working tirelessly can develop responsible and sustainable tourism with associated benefits for local human and cetacean communities in an area that faces many other environmental and social challenges.”

A Must See!

WARD 66 councillor JP Prinsloo and his office together with Sodurba Tourism and WildOceans are currently working on a project to promote the KZN whale coast by developing and beautifying three main whale viewing points on the Bluff.

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Pictured is the talented artist who painted the beautiful mural on Airlie Road, Dianne Campbell, resident Johnny Swanepoel and Cllr JP Prinsloo

The viewpoints have been identified on Airlie and Netford Roads as well as Finnemore Place.

Destiny Island

To help usher in this year’s Welcoming of the Whales Street Festival, the corner of Gray’s Inn Road and Marine Drive at the Bluff is now home to Destiny the whale. The art piece installation was launched by Sodurba and its sponsors on Wednesday, 26 June.

Helga du Preez from Sodurba receives the keys to Destiny Island’s enclosure from Selwin Swartz from Fabricon

Helga du Preez from Sodurba Tourism Association said the South Durban Community Tourism Association launched the Welcoming of the Whales Festival in 2017, and Robin Opperman from Umcebo Design had made a mascot for the festival.

SODURBA calls for partnerships with local businesses

IT’S all systems go as Sodurba South Durban Tourism and ward 66 councillor JP Prinsloo unveiled plans to revitalise local tourism.

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Sodurba chairman Helga du Preez, ward 66 Cllr JP Prinsloo and Sodurba spokesman Melissa Lee, are amped about involving more local tourism roleplayers in their strategy to improve the Sodurba region’s tourism offerings.

Sodurba hosted a meeting for stakeholders and community members recently to proactively engage on the role of tourism, improving the quality of local tourism, increasing access to transport and information to visitors and locals, regulating local businesses as well as how concerned groups can work together for the greater good of the environment.

World Wildlife Day 2019

The WESSA membership team out at the celebration of World Wildlife Day, hosted by WESSA on Saturday 3 March at WESSA Educational Centre in Bluff.

PUPILS from Durban South schools including Bluff Christian Academy, Assegai Primary, Parsee Rustomjee Primary and Grosvenor Boys High School experienced a unique environmental education programme to celebrate World Wildlife Day on Saturday, 2 March.

Bluff Christian Academy grade 5 pupil Thando Zikalala is fascinated by the different marine organisms he found during the rocky shores ecosystems outreach held at Treasure Beach on Saturday, 2 March.

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s (WESSA) Treasure Beach educational centre on the Bluff played host to a rocky shores ecosystem challenge at Treasure Beach. Pupils explored the different sea creatures within the water close to the shore and simultaneously enjoyed first-hand experience of the harmful effects of water pollution on marine life. Part of the programme was well suited for the young ones’ curious minds as it included educational exhibits displaying different experiments and information all aimed at focusing on life below water and marine species.

 

WESSA is affiliated with a number of organisations in its mission to protect and care for the environment including the United Nations, Youth Managers Foundation, Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Department of Environmental Affairs, Durban Solid Waste and eThekwini Municipality.

 

Save Our Seas

The High Commission of Canada in South Africa hosted a beach clean-up event in partnership with WILDOCEANS and the US consulate in Durban. The aim of the event was to host a beach clean-up and educational workshop on ocean plastic waste and marine litter to ecosystems at a beach in Durban as part of Canada’s G7 commitment to take action to address oceans plastics.

Canada is committed to protecting the environment and preserving the waterways, so that the world continues to enjoy the beauty, health and economic benefits that our oceans, lakes and rivers provide. The government of Canada is working at home, in South Africa and across the world with partners to address the serious and growing problem of ocean waste. Involved was, Sithengile High School, a local school, on the day. After the cleanup we played educational games encouraging the students to make a commitment to protect the marine environment.