Mossel Bay’s tourism industry is preparing for this year’s whale season by making accommodation and attractions more and more affordable.
“Mossel Bay’s Mild Season runs from the 1st of May to the 31st of August – which coincides nicely with the period when the southern right whales come to South African waters to mate and calve,” said Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm.
“During Mossel Bay’s Mild Season, many of our accommodation establishments will be offering discounts of up to 50% if you stay for three nights or more – and if you take advantage of these offers, you’ll also be entitled to discount vouchers of up to 50% on various attractions and activities.”
Ms. Holm said that Mossel Bay has empirical evidence to show that it’s a prime whale- and dolphin watching destination.
“The Mossel Bay Cetacean Project has been collecting hard data on the presence of whales and dolphins in the Bay since 2010.
“It was begun by Edith Mertz of the Mammal Research Institute of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria in 2010. Bridget James then worked on it from 2011 while she was preparing for her master’s degree – and she handed over to Monica Betts in April last year.”
The study area was extended to include Vleesbaai (the bay to the west of Cape St. Blaize) during Ms. James’ tenure, and more recently Ms. Betts introduced the use of underwater sound recording technology so that she can monitor the animals at night and during bad weather.
Ms. Betts, who holds an honours degree in Zoology from the University of Pretoria, spends up to five days a week watching for whales and dolphins from pre-determined points on land. When she sees them, she records their positions accurately using a surveyor’s theodolite.
“What we’ve noticed is that whales and dolphins tend to be more evenly distributed throughout Vleesbaai than they are in Mossel Bay, where they tend to avoid the areas where there’s regular shipping and boating activity,” said Ms. Betts.
“So while you’re likely to see whales or dolphins from almost any good vantage point in Vleesbaai, in Mossel Bay you’re most likely to see them east of Klein Brak River – in other words, some distance away from the harbour.”
But, she said, whales and dolphins are in fact present in both bays throughout the year.
“Although the southern right whales and the humpback whales are migratory, we do see Bryde’s whales and humpback- and bottlenose dolphins regularly both in summer and in winter.”
Ms. Holm said that the Mossel Bay Cetacean Project reflects the town’s desire to establish itself as a leading destination for scientific and academic research.
“The geography of the area, the unpolluted condition of our waters, and the unique archaeology of the area – which has placed the Southern Cape as the very birthplace of culture and advanced technology – all contribute to making Mossel Bay an outdoor laboratory like no other, and the Municipality and the local community are fully committed to the ever-growing number of scientists who’re choosing to study the life and history of our remarkable corner of the planet.”
Ms. Betts thanked the community of Mossel Bay for its contributions to her research.
“Many of our observation stations are situated on private land, and it’s not always convenient for people to allow us access – but they do anyway, and we’re grateful for that. We’ve also received contributions from companies like Sandpiper Cottages, which sponsored some of our project accommodation and transport over a period of three years.”
Mossel Bay Tourism board member, Louis Cook, urged local businesses to join Mossel Bay’s Mild Season.
“Please contact Marcia Holm on 044 691 2202 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the campaign – because there’s still time to add your packages and special offers to the list.”
• Mosselbay Tourism