Aloha Algoa

The folk of Port Elizabeth certainly love their bay and are going all out to save its threatened sealife

Words Marion Whitehead Pictures Marion Whitehead and Supplied

Thwack! Thwack! We’re inundated by a huge school of dolphins feeding in the waters around St Croix Island. Their soft whistles and grunts of satisfaction fill the air, but every now and then one will thump the water with its tail. Thwack!’ “We don’t know why they do it,” says Jake Keeton, manager of Raggy Charters and our skipper for the morning aboard a sleek catamaran in Port Elizabeth’s Algoa Bay.

“It could be to communicate, or to dislodge an irritating parasite, or to herd fish. Science hasn’t worked it out yet. “These are Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and we’re extremely lucky today. It looks like two pods have come together to and mate.” He puts the number at around 200. “For everyone, you see on the surface, there are two more beneath.” The German tourists who join us from the cruise liner parked in Port Elizabeth harbour are enthralled at the experience. A much rarer sighting earlier was a visiting Bryde’s whale – plus, of course, the penguins, Cape fur seals, cormorants and gannets galore on the island refuges in the bay, from where they’re perfectly positioned to take advantage of the fact that the cold Agulhas current meets the warm Benguela upwelling here, giving them rich pickings from two ocean ecosystems. 

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