Today was a day for champions! We started the adventure off with an early breakfast before heading out to Port Elizabeth (or PE as the locals call it) to watch some whales. Once in PE we located the harbour and harbour master who took us down to the water’s edge where we located our boat. From there we boarded the mighty vessel affectionately named Orca with our two ranger companions Geoff and Francois. Our captain Lloyd took us across Algoa Bay where we came across a giant ball of fish that African penguins expertly herded to the surface and which Black Cormorants and a lonely Cape Gannet greedy were to take advantage of. The hope was that this activity would draw larger predators such as Dolphins, Southern Right Whale, and Humpback Whales, which had just begun their migration. We were also hoping to observe more local inhabitants such as the Bryde’s Whale and Killer Whale. Alas none were spotted; so onward we went to St Croix Island. We circled St Croix observing many cute African Penguins basking in the sun. On the island were also remnants of the massive guano and egg trade that decimated the population in the late 1800s. After the island we headed to the harbour and disembark to return to Amakhala for lunch.
After lunch we enjoyed a very informative lecture on Captive Animal Medicine in a zoo setting by Dr VanWessen. She is a resident veterinarian at Paignton Zoo in the southwest of England. In the lecture she discussed the importance of diet, enrichment and environment to the health and wellbeing of resident animals. Furthermore, the importance of zoos to conservation and the roles zoos play in maintaining the genetic viability of endangered species was discussed. She shared with us many interesting veterinary cases in which she was involved.
To end the day we headed to a local establishment called Sidbury and partook in local revelry with our ever-watchful ranger companions. There were drinks and stories shared. Some new friends were made, and some games of beer pong were won by many.
Written byJack Hamersky and Erin Bradley