Published: December 15th 2021
South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. It was also here, down in Hermanus where I had my first whale encounter.
In summer 2019 I decided to go back. Since I did not just wanted to go as a tourist I joined a volunteer program in Plettenburg to observe whales and dolphins. One of the best decisions as it turned out to be an amazing summer.
In total I spent about two month in South Africa. My favorite moments were the ones out on the boat collecting data on humpback dolphins. Also we did have to get up early and we ended up spending hours out at sea, it was a beautiful experience. There were days we got to observe whole groups of dolphins playing and surfing the waves. We had the chance to watch albatrosses circling the boat and little penguins swimming next to us.
At the end of almost every boat trip during the survey we had to count the seal population on Roberg. This was a little bit a tedious task, since it was usually around 7000 of them sunbathing on top of each other. Another of my
experience was to sample seal poop, where we had to extract foreign objects from their excrements. Also it was rather disgusting, it was also kind interesting to see what seals had to eat all day.
One of the worst experiences during the summer though was the dissection of a small sperm whale. Other might have enjoyed this task too much, like some of my fellow volunteers, but I could just not bring myself to join in. Just the smell made me want to vomit. So from a distance I volunteered to document the experiences by taking pictures of the event.
While some of these activities were not made for me, I just loved joining the whale tours. Here we got to join the whale watching group, sit in the back of the small tour boat and observe humpback and southern wright whales. While the southern wrights were rather shy, the humpbacks loved to put on a show. One time we encountered a mom and her calve. They were so active and kept breaching for a good half an hour super close to our boat. I was crying out of joy as this is not something you get to
see every day.
When we were not out at sea we spent our days hiking, alien plant clearing and observing the marine life from the top of the cliff of Roberg. I had a fantastic summer volunteer and I will definitely sing up for more volunteer program in the future.
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