Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whale of a Time

I woke up at six o'clock on Saturday morning to be ready for whale watching with Jack and Jenna, two new volunteers that arrived last week. At seven o'clock we'd set off in a big truck across the sand dunes and along the beach.

Whales migrate from the arctic towards tropical waters every year, where they go to breed. They migrate up the west and east coasts of Africa, and even towards the east coast of Madagascar. While in the arctic, the whales can eat seven tonnes of krill per day during their three month stay. They migrate to tropical waters to give birth to their calves as well, after a gestation period of almost one year.

Bruno, our guide from Botswana, has a PhD in marine ecology and marine biology. He and his partner have the largest photo database of humpback whales in the world, and the only picture of a double-breech. They do a lot of recording and analysis on whale migratory patterns. It was really interesting to hear all the information he told us about the whales and his job. During peak season, he said tourists will see up to a couple hundred whales per day.

While out, we saw a large sea turtle in the middle of the ocean, which is very rare. We saw two male humpback whales migrating together. Bruno said they probably paired up for the journey and will wait around the coast until the females come to breed. The whales were so peaceful, it was amazing to sit and watch them. We stayed taking pictures for probably about an hour.

Many of the other volunteers have begun leaving, and a new batch of volunteers have arrived. On average, volunteers usually come for a month or so. As of now, we have six volunteers in the house, where we've had as many as thirteen at one point.

We're trying hard to rearrange all of the activities so there are enough people on each. I've been doing a lot of building (my back is killing me), but it'll be all worth it when I see the new daycare centre be finished.

We're starting the thatched roof tomorrow so hopefully I'll get to try the builders' roofing techniques. We're also starting to teach HIV Education in the schools on Wednesday and Thursday, so I will definitely be reporting back as to how that goes.

Elaine and I are planning to travel around this weekend, whether it's into Mozambique or Swaziland, or just around KwaZulu-Natal.

Until Next Time!


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