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.
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.
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. 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.
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.”
Thank you Robin Opperman! Big thanks to Kempster Ford Edwin Swales & Fabricon for making this happen! Our community is ever so grateful!
Robin, creative director at Umcebo Design will be making a 3m humpback whale that will be partially clad with recycled plastic bottle caps for the Welcoming of the Whales Festival for Sodurba, in partnership with Eden College. We are collecting plastic bottle caps in: dark blue; black; white; grey and purple.
For anyone who would like to donate plastic bottle caps please contact us on 0314670404.
Last year we had the privilege of showcasing this beautiful creation at the first Welcoming of the Whales Festival.
The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) is a Partnership of over 90 non-profit organisations, whale and dolphin watching tour operators and individuals in 40 countries worldwide working collaboratively to protect cetaceans and their habitats.
Durban has it’s very own annual whale festival aptly named ‘Welcoming of the Whales Festival’. Held in conjunction with the World Whale Conference hosted in Durban this year (2017), the Welcoming of the Whales festival was part of the tourism drive of the South Durban community tourism organisation, Sodurba.
This video showcases the Bluff, Durban, as an ideal spot for whale watching on the eastern coast of South Africa. The event is held annually at Anstey’s Beach where people are treated to an array of stalls and information on marine life. Produced by MARZAC Productions Sponsored by Sodurba Special Thanks to JP Prinsloo
Here are a few behind the scenes pictures from the 2017 event. Please follow this link to view our Facebook page with all the event pictures here!
KZN Whale Coast together with WhaleTime share the goal to bring science, conservation, tourism and community together around this iconic species.
Whale Time is a special time of year (June to November) on the East Coast of South Africa when we are privileged to observe some of the whale species that frequent the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
SO, HOW CAN YOU HELP US HELP THE WHALES?
Increasing our knowledge and understanding of these extraordinary marine mammals’ biology and population structure, through the photographs you send us, will help to improve the accuracy of the data used in assessments of the population recovery and future conservation of these species.
The whaling industry in Durban had its beginnings in 1907 when the Norwegian Consul in Durban, Jacob Egeland, went back to Norway and, with fellow Norwegian Johan Bryde, raised money to start a whaling operation in Durban. The two men formed the South African Whaling Company that year and brought two ships for catching whales to Durban from Sandefjord in Norway.
Hunting began in July the following year and ended in mid-November, by which time the two catchers had killed 106 of the huge animals, mostly Humpbacks.
The original whaling factory was within the harbour entrance, near where the whale slipway can still be found. This was a popular bathing area at the time but because sharks were now attracted to the whale carcases, and on account of the smell produced, the whaling factory was forced to move around the headland to the ocean side of the Bluff – KwaZulu-Natal.
On average fifty marine animals are stranded or washed up on the South African coastline each year. Sadly the number of animals being reported as stranded is on the increase.
Download and share this brochure to help and educate yourself and the rest of your community.
|ORGANISATION||CONTACT DETAILS||STRANDED ANIMALS|
|EZEMVELO KZN WILDLIFE|| 031 2741150 – OH
083 380 6298 (24hr)
|All marine animals|
|SEA WORLD||031 328 8222 – OH
031 328 8060 – AH (Public Holidays & Weekends)
|Dolphins, whales, seals,
|KZN SHARKS BOARD||031 566 0400|| Whale & dolphin
entanglements in nets
|CROW||031 462 1127||Sea Birds|
Durban – Humpback whales are back in KwaZulu-Natal waters, with whale song reverberating under the waves and massive tail flukes heralding the fourth World Whale Conference and Durban’s first Welcoming of the Whales Festival, set to take place in Durban later this month.
Riette Bennett, the owner of Advantage Tours, which holds the permit for whale watching in Durban and St Lucia, confirmed whales have been spotted this week as the annual migration takes place from the southern oceans. “The first lone whale was spotted on May 18, followed by a lull for two weeks, and then the others started arriving.
File picture: Supplied “We have such beautiful humpback whales coming up our coastline. They come from the Antarctic up to the warm Mozambique waters to mate and breed. Those that are pregnant will go back to the Antarctic for the 12-month gestation period and come back next year to give birth.
“Those giving birth will travel back slowly, waiting for the calf to put on blubber. A calf will drink up to 400 litres a day and they need to build up their blubber to survive in the icy waters of the Antarctic,” said Bennett. She added that the southern right whale is only occasionally seen in KZN waters, with a 60 ton mother and calf spotted last year.
While whales across the southern ocean move north to warmer waters at this time of year – whether to Africa, Australia or America – for breeding purposes, the annual sardine run also brings a huge pod of whales travelling behind them.
Bennett said they were very excited about the World Whale Conference to be held in the city, and particularly about sharing information with other whale watching operations from around the world. “We can share what species we see, their migratory habits, the extraordinary markings and perhaps create a platform to share pictures and information,” she said, citing an example of a whale tail they photographed, which appeared to have a bite out of the tail. “Two years later, the exact same whale appeared in front of our vessel. We were over the moon,” she said.
Dr Ken Findlay, the Research Chair in Oceans Economy at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and one of the guest speakers invited to the conference, said whale populations on the southern hemisphere were faring well, having recovered from “severe whaling pressure”.
The World Whale Conference (June 24-29) is being hosted by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) and the theme is “Towards Responsible Tourism for Cetaceans” which will focus on sharing evidence and discussing strategies to ensure the protection of cetaceans.
Cetaceans are aquatic mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Part of the conference will also include a Whale Heritage Sites Summit, which will discuss and explore opportunities for the development of new sites in Africa and worldwide.
The Welcoming of the Whales Festival will be held on June 24 and 25, with WCA supporting Sodurba Community Tourism Organisation (Durban South Tourism) hosting the first whale celebration event at Anstey’s Beach on the Bluff. Activities will include educational, art and cultural events to celebrate the arrival of the whales.
Written by Tanya Waterworth – Independent on Saturday
Recently Umcebo Design shared Durban school children’s unique reflections on their
Creations for Cetaceans project: building whales to go on display during the WCA’s
upcoming World Whale Conference.
“We decorated a beautiful wire whale with bottle tops to hang up at the Conference. This will hopefully change stubborn minds about throwing bottle caps away into the deep blue sea”. This inspirational quote from primary school student, Sam Walker shows his enthusiasm for the unique community project about whales in Durban. With the other pupils of Manor Gardens Primary School, Sam is building a whale from waste materials like those polluting the ocean.
“Me and my class were lucky to be a part of two wonderful projects. There was a whale covered in mesh and we had to cable tie blue, black and white plastic bottle tops on it. This represented all the whales that have been killed from plastic bottle tops. Umcebo made the thing that had been killing the whales into something beautiful”. Mia Chappe
Creations for Cetacean.
Robin Opperman from Umcebo Design has been commissioned by the WCA to undertake
this whale project for the upcoming World Whale Conference. It did not take Robin much
to convince WCA about the huge potential to involve both the local community, the
participants of the World Whale Conference and, hopefully, a huge audience around the
world. The project forms a part of “Creations for Cetaceans” and is the WCA’s latest
initiative in celebrating cetaceans through art. School children build whales from recycled (waste) materials like the plastics and wire netting that end up killing marine life in our oceans. Whilst participating, they learn more about the impact we have on our oceans and what they can do to recycle more. The finished whales will be exhibited at both the Welcoming of the Whales festival, co-hosted by Sodurba, and the World Whale
Conference from the 24th of June.
More sponsors wanted!
Woolworths – Have sponsored one of the whale sculptures Building these whales is all about helping education and creating more awareness of the need to protect whales. Not only that, is a fun activity to do!
Robin says: “The teachers and I see a tremendous dedication of the school kids in
creating something unique while raising awareness among adults, hopefully also outside
of South Africa. You could say that here in Durban the young are educating the old”.
Woolworths has already sponsored one whale, could you do the same?
This Creations for Cetaceans project can be really successful if the WCA and Umcebo
Design find more generous sponsors who each would adopt one of the five whales. If you
are interested in helping this incredible project by sponsoring a whale, please contact
WCA at firstname.lastname@example.org