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01 August 2011

Like a game drive on the sea

Sharks, seals and whales are but a few of the sea creatures you can expect to encounter while on an Eco Marine Tour in the Cape.

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False Bay, renowned for its Southern Right Whales sightings from July to December each year, is home to various whale watching boat tours and marine excursions.

While staying at the Arabella Hotel and Spa in Kleinmond, I decided to take some time out from all the spa treatments to go and view marine life on the open ocean. And what a treat it was...

We launched early on a cold May morning from Kleinbaai – a little town on the Cape south coast just 45 minutes from the popular holiday destination, Hermanus. Our raft was duly dubbed the Whale Whisperer. Our destination was Dyer Island – a small island 8km offshore from Kleinbaai, and home to thousands of African Penguins.

Beside Dyer Island lies a smaller island called Geyser Rock populated by tens of thousands of Cape Fur Seals.

The shallow channel between these two islands — popularly known as "Shark Alley" — is home to the densest known population of Great White Sharks in the world, attracted by the abundance of their staple food: the Cape fur seal.

Curious sea creatures
Although we didn't see any whales on our excursion – whale season only starts a month later – we did encounter a host of other sea creatures such as humpback dolphins, curious seabird species, seals (by the thousands) and the sleek and deadly Great White Shark.

Another thing worth mentioning is the cute baby seals that played around the boat, poking their little heads out of the water to gawk at the boat-load of amazed tourists gawking back at them. I'm sure they wouldn't have looked quite as happy if they knew about the Great White we’d passed just two minutes before patrolling the alley.

The trip organisers aim to educate their patrons regarding conservation efforts for Dyer Island's fragile penguin population, and throughout the boat ride talks were given on penguin nesting projects and the clean marine efforts they are involved with.

Proceeds also benefit conservation, education, research and community development projects.

So, if you love the ocean but don't like getting wet, this is the best way to experience first hand the wonders of our beautiful coastline – and to learn about programmes that aim to keep it healthy.

- (Wilma Stassen, Health24, June 2008)

- Last updated: August 2011

 
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