Whale Time Project
Whale Time is a special time of year on the East Coast of South Africa when we are privileged to observe some of the whale species that frequent the KwaZulu-Natal coast. In particular,
the humpback whales migrate close inshore along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal between their summer Antarctic feeding grounds and the coastal waters of Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya, Madagascar,
the Mascarenes and the Western Indian Ocean Islands where they give birth to their calves.
Previously decimated by whaling, protection measures have resulted in a strong recovery of these ocean giants which can be seen as early as May and through to December. The peaks of the northwards and southward migrations are in July-August and October-November, respectively.
Whale Time’s goal is to bring science, conservation, tourism and community together around this iconic species. It aims to contribute to updating scientific knowledge of humpback whale populations and to engage public in whale sightings and associated monitoring of the distribution, behaviour patterns and habitat use of the whales. The project includes the establishment of an online platform that will allow “citizen scientists” to upload photos of whales, to be identified by marine science experts. It provides a platform to develop a coastal community based “citizen science” movement that will bring benefits not only for conservation of the whales and their ocean environment, but also for coastal communities through training and economic opportunities.
The Whale Time project has four main elements:
- Research – assess, monitor and communicate the recovery, conservation status and population dynamics of east coast humpback whales
- Citizen Science – involve citizens in monitoring and research on whales, thus building public knowledge and creating powerful advocates for conservation of the ocean
- Ecotourism – put the east coast whale migration on the map as an amazing conservation and tourism phenomenon – locally to globally
- Community Guiding – provide an opportunity for coastal communities to appreciate the value of marine conservation through involving them in whale eco-tourism
The Whale Time Project aims to involve, engage and educate a wide range of people about whales and the marine environment, as well as to promote ethical and sustainable community-based tourism centred around this iconic species.