Celebrating the Southern Hemisphere humpback whale migration route

Addo Elephant National Park’s marine protected area, Algoa Bay, plays host to migrating humpback whales along our coastline during the winter months.

According to the late legendary whale and dolphin researcher, Professor Peter Best, “the northern migration of humpback whales seems to reach the African coastline in the vicinity of Knysna”. Therefore, it seemed obvious that this would be perfect place to start celebrating the arrival of these magnificent creatures.

READ: Caught on camera: humpback whale breaches clear of the water

The first event on the migration route celebration kicked off in Knysna on the 5th June 2021 and will continue along the coastline between Swakopmund on the west coast of Namibia and Kenya on the east coast of Southern Africa. The longest migration of any mammal is echoed in the longest whale heritage route celebrated on our planet. The route is a joint venture between the World Cetacean Alliance, Raggy Charters, and other whale enthusiasts and groups along the Southern African coastline.

Humpback whales were brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1960s when modern-day whaling almost wiped out the global population along with all the other great whales. A paradigm shift stopped the slaughter and the humpback whales have led the recovery. They are the first of the great whales to reach their pre-exploitation numbers.  We need to defend these gains and extend them to the other 80-plus species of cetaceans.

Lloyd Edwards of Raggy Charters

Their message to our planet is short and sweet: leave us alone and nature will take its course. They are an inspiration to help us sort out so many of our other pressing problems like climate change, and the polluting and raping of our oceans. Let us join these creatures and do our bit to make our oceans become a better place for everyone.

As these animals move up the coastline, we celebrate their arrival in the towns and cities along the way. Some locations will have full-blown festivals, while others will simply host a presentation. Every year, more venues are added to the route and the activities are expanded. The events are open to the public, and the youth especially are encouraged to come along and learn about these animals. Education is the key to the whales’ survival.

The humpbacks face many dangers along their migration routes. The biggest natural threat to them is from marauding killer whales. Newly born calves and sub adults are the most at risk…but this has been going on alongside their evolution and relatively few animals succumb.  Ship strikes, marine pollution, noise pollution, and lack of food caused by climate change are the man-made problems. The chief problem encountered by these whales the world over, is entanglement in fishing gear, especially ropes. This causes these animals to die a slow and agonising death. It is for this reason that the organisers have drawn up a petition to the Minister, to ensure that the fishing industry puts more mitigation measures in place, to prevent these entanglements from occurring. Marine scientists have developed technology that just needs to be implemented. If we all work together we can make this happen. Please distribute this petition as widely as possible.

The Nelson Mandela Bay event:

16 June 2021

Pine Lodge Conference Centre & Resort, Marine Drive, Port Elizabeth

16 June 2021

09:00 – 17:00

Admission fee: R10pp (Pensioners and children under 10 are free)

Please see the attached map with a list of all the venues and dates. For more information on humpback whales and the migration route events, please visit here.

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