Algoa Bay now a whale heritage site

South Africa now has two of the four recognised whale heritage sites accredited by the World Cetacean Alliance. Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape, with its large populations of whale and other cetacean populations, joins the Bluff in Durban, as one of the country’s two globally recognised whale-watching sites. 

The new status puts Algoa Bay alongside Hervey Bay in Australia; Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area in southwest Tenerife, Spain and Dana Point in California, the United States. 

Algoa Bay is not only known for its southern right, humpback, Bryde’s and killer whale species. It is also the bottlenose dolphin capital of the world. Researchers estimated that in the 1990s there were about 30 000 residents dolphins. Common dolphins and Cape fur seals are also seen in the bay.

Cetaceans are an aquatic order of mammals comprising whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Added to its growing status as a biodiversity rich marine area with endemic species, Algoa Bay was declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area in 2001 because of its large populations of the African penguin, which are now endangered. 

The nonprofit World Animal Protection organisation said the move will provide the travel industry with another way to identify and support sustainable sites and create a location for people to celebrate marine culture, heritage and biodiversity.

“The accreditation of Algoa Bay as a new whale heritage site is immensely important in the protection of wildlife in South Africa,” said Nick Stewart, who is the global head of campaigns at World Animal Protection. 

“It showcases a viable, sustainable alternative to cruel attractions like captive dolphin venues and other wildlife entertainment activities. The site will also help to spotlight tour operators who offer tourists a wonderful experience seeing whales and dolphins in the wild, where they belong, while protecting the welfare of marine wildlife.”

Lloyd Edwards, who is a member of the steering committee that accredits sites, said: “Becoming a whale heritage site will ensure that visitors to the Algoa Bay marine area are contributing to destinations that celebrate natural heritage, protect marine wildlife and build a connection between local residents and sea life.” 

Tunicia Phillips is an Adamela Trust climate and economic justice reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa

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Tunicia Phillips
Tunicia Phillips is an investigative, award-winning journalist who has worked in broadcast for 10 years. Her beats span across crime, court politics, mining energy and social justice. She has recently returned to print at the M&G working under the Adamela Trust to specialise in climate change and environmental reporting.

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