Marine Research along the Garden Route

sea turtle strandingsMarine Wildlife and Marine Researchers visit Plettenberg Bay this winter along the Garden Route

Marine wildlife plays an important role in Plettenberg Bay, not only for the local tourism industry, but also for marine conservation and research. Take advantage of the most moderate winter South African climate, in Plettenberg Bay while staying at La Vista Lodge.

The area is home to several species of marine life, including the African penguin, the Subantarctic fur seal, the Bryde’s whale, 3 different species of dolphin (the Common, Bottlenose and Humpack dolphins), and the seasonal visit of Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Humpback whales, Southern Right whales, Great White sharks, Hammerhead sharks, and the occasional southern elephant seal and Orca whale. Marine research along the Garden Route is active in Plett, and winter is a great time to view the marine life.

There are several programmes currently underway that are researching the bay and its marine life in conjunction with the local NGO Nature’s Valley Trust.

These programmes include:

  • video Brydes whale tagging projectThe Bryde’s whale tagging project with Goldbogen Lab. This is their second trip to South Africa to tag Bryde’s whales. This work provides a unique insight into the movement, diving, and foraging behaviour of these resident South African whales, right here in our bay. They are a shy and elusive species, so managing to tag them is both a difficult and exciting process! These tags remain on the animals for up to 24hrs recording information on location, speed and depth, while also filming the whale’s behaviors and interactions. This provides a wealth of new information allowing us to better understand the species. NVT is assisting with this project only, it has been facilitated by Nelson Mandela Bay University.
  • A loggerhead sea turtle currently in the rehabilitation unit at Tenikwa in Plettenberg Bay
    A loggerhead sea turtle currently in the rehabilitation unit at Tenikwa in Plettenberg Bay

    The Loggerhead Sea Turtle rescue programme. Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtles get caught in our cold-water currents and go into hypothermia and shock. The cold water mixed with the big swell has given these little guys a rough time. Once found, they are stabalised at Tenikwa Wildlife and Rehabilitation Centre, and then transported to Cape Town to be rehabilitated by specialists before being released into warmer waters along the coast.

  • The Sustainable Marine Tourism project with NMU. This WWF-SA Nedbank Green Trust project consists of conducting experimental interactions with whales and dolphins to assess how their behavior changes in response to different factors such as angle of approach and approach speed. This will aid us in determining whether our current regulations are good enough for all of the species they cover in our bay – or if they can be improved upon to better protect our wildlife. The project includes a unique economic study that aims to measure the value-add of this tourism activity to the town as a whole. The project also aims to develop useful resources for the industry, in terms of guide and skipper training material, signboards at key points and more.

You can even volunteer to help out with programmes at NVT during your stay at La Vista in Plett. Enjoy a special winter week, experience the marine life in the area and take advantage of the wonderful weather. Check out our accommodation specials for more information.