Latest Sightings in Algoa Bay
On a recent cruise we had two new interns that are starting out with Raggy Charters. The first is Purity Khosa who hails from Mpumalanga Province. She is final year tourism management student at Nelson Mandela University and will be completing her six month practical experience with us. She has become a dolphin fanatic overnight and we just cannot wait to show her the first whales of the season. She is also assisting us in our talks at school, popularising marine conservation to the learners. With us is also Bongz Ghana who is currently registered for her honors in Tourism Management. She will be assisting us with our marine conservation outreach to rural schools in the Transkei. Let's hope her experience will help get the children hyped up before our visit later this year.
On invitation from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism, have recently initiated a series of Marine Life Educational talks at township schools in Port Elizabeth. The first presentation was organised by the Tourism Development Officer, Rachel Solomons and Duma Maqubela. Raggy Charters owner, Lloyd Edwards, gave a presentation on Algoa Bay as the Bottlenose Capital of the world, ably assisted by the Raggy Charters Education Officer, Lindeka Ntlokwana and new intern Purity Khosa. The learners were told about the evolution of dolphins, the different kinds of dolphins in Algoa Bay and then the stars of the show, the 28 500 dolphins that call Algoa Bay their home. They were shown images from around the bay and given all kinds of dolphin facts on which Duma quizzed them after the presentation. They were also told about the upcoming Dolphin Carnival and what they needed to do to become part of that. Those who answered Duma's questions correctly and design a marine conservation poster will soon be coming out with Raggy Charters to view the dolphins at first hand.
On 15th January 2017- We had a spectacular day out at sea with all the lovely guests who joined us and also the very friendly and playful pod of +-150 bottlenose dolphins in the bay. They were sticking with the boats and didn't seem to want to leave us. I think it was their friendly morning greeting to all the customers who had travelled all over just to view these beautiful dolphins. After all, we are the bottlenose capital of the world. They were so excited that they were jumping out the water to show off. What more can you ask for if you have a beautiful day out at sea and friendly dolphins that don't want to leave you alone!
24th September 2016- We had frisky penguins and frisky dolphins on our cruise this morning! Our first encounter though was of two humpback whales, who were extremely uninterested in us and seemed too shy to spend much time with. We decided to go to the islands for some penguin viewing, and to try our luck with the dolphins. Lots of penguins were at sea, as they are probably preparing for the moulting season- so they need to spend a few weeks foraging and fattening up. On the island we noticed one penguin getting a little amorous with another that was lying down, having absolutely none of it! And then what we think was a sub-Antarctic fur seal lying down closeby- obviously hoping for a bit of peace and quiet. It is the time of year that we see these guys come ashore quite often as they try to relax and recover after a long swim. We didn't find any dolphins at the island but luckily had received a message from the PE Cetacean Spotters about a group over at Pollock Beach, so we headed straight there. We found a big group of 250 bottlenose dolphins, all being very playful! Some were mating and a few were leaping about. A lot of people along the beachfront also got to witness the show- such an amazing thing!
15th September 2016- We had such a great morning out at sea today! With only a few guests on board (Graham, Jenny and Angus), we headed for St Croix Island, forever scanning the sea for marine life. As we approached Jahleel we saw a blow but then nothing more. We had given up and started towards St Croix when we saw more blows. We headed over and soon found a humpback whale! This one seemed quite shy so we didn't stay with it very long but then suddenly a trio of testosterone fuelled males were charging along closeby! After we had spent some time with them we decided to make our move back towards the island, and quickly found a shadow behind us. Two humpback whales were sticking very close to us and followed us nearly all the way to St Croix- just amazing! Then at the island we headed to Lovers Lane to look for dolphins and there they were there waiting for us :) A pod of 200 bottlenose dolphins, swimming leisurely around, they stuck with us for a while but then departed North towards the shore. We had just seen three boats at the island which were releasing a huge group of African penguins that had been rehabilitated by SANCCOB after the oil spill. Fantastic to see them splashing around in the water preening themselves. Then on the island was also a young Cape fur seal. The penguins around him were very curious, one juvenile even got quite close before backing away suddenly! It just doesn't get better
5th September 2016- This morning we had a special visitor from the Mission Blue team, Jonathan Knowles, out on the boat with us eager to see our Algoa Bay Hope Spot! Tony Ribbink from Sustainable Seas Trust & SEA Pledge also joined us. As well as two lovely ladies from the US; Cynthia and Margaret! We had a beautiful morning on the water (before the nasty wind hit) and we saw 150 bottlenose dolphins at St Croix Island (living up to our reputation; Algoa Bay - Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World) and of course all 22,000 African penguins (the largest breeding colony of these endangered birds in the world!!)
27th August 2016- Another stunning day at sea. 200 bottlenose dolphins at St Croix Island, leaping and playing around the boat. The water was clear enough to see them before they surfaced, and our guests were thrilled. Unfortunately we spotted a couple of oiled penguins, so we alerted SANParks so that they can come and collect them.
25th August 2016- A beautiful morning out at sea. The oil spill was neutralized so our beautiful bay was beautiful once more and the animals seemed joyous. We found a big pod of 400 bottlenose dolphins just as we reached St Croix Island. They were heading West so we went with them, and they then headed round towards Brenton Island. Some were swimming at speed, some just taking their time, some of them were even mating as they travelled. Then this dolphin starting breaching out! We didn't see any oiled penguins on the island this time, but SANParks were still there checking, just in case. We ended up assisting them as they tried to catch an injured penguin that was in the water. We hopped on to their boat and used a net to successfully scoop up the poor bird (looks like a shark or seal attack). We then found out they had already found two oiled penguins, and all 3 were now off to SAMREC to be looked after! Quite a nice morning; good sightings, and getting to actually help out in this awful situation feels great!
18th August 2016- Yesterday we received some bad news that there had been an oil spill in the bay. We already had guests booked to go out so we headed in to the bay, not knowing what to expect at all. We soon encountered a few large patches of oil, both liquid form and solidified lumps. We could smell it quite strongly and were obviously worried about what was going to happen to it. They had already released this chemical in to the water that solidifies the oil (which does make it less of a problem for the penguins and other wildlife), so that must have been what we were seeing. Anyway, we headed on and found SANParks rangers already at the island busy retrieving oiled penguins to be taken to the rehabiliation centres in the Eastern Cape (SANCCOB and SAMREC). Such a horrible sight. But the mood quickly changed when we found a pod of about 200 bottlenose dolphins over at Hougham Park. They seemed completely unaware and unaffected by the oil, and then soon after that encounter we found our first mating pair of Southern right whales. Such a bitter sweet morning, with great sightings, but a horrible problem now plaguing the bay.
15th August 2016- We've had another string of great cruises with bottlenose dolphin sightings, Cape fur seals, penguins, gannets etc. Twice we found a large pod of dolphins off St Georges Strand, launching through the waves that were hitting the sand (very shallow)! And when they aren't at the beach they are at the island. We've also had some great guests on board, with huge groups of volunteers out from Shamwari Game Reserve! We've had a few whale sightings reported to us, so they are clearly around, we just seem to be missing them still. We are positive that the best is yet to come with whale sightings, so we'll continue to wait patiently and enjoy these spectacular dolphins in the meantime
11th August 2016- Another 3 days out at sea, and all with dolphin sightings! Every time at St Croix- but different pods; how strange! So we also had a couple of windy/choppy days with these offshore's blowing up as we get to the island, but all our guests seemed to come back happy. I suppose having hundreds of dolphins swimming all around you will do that
8th August 2016- 3 days out in a row and 3 bottlenose dolphin sightings in a row! Each day different! On Saturday a smallish pod of around 80 were observed at St Croix Island, keeping to themselves quite a bit but still a spectacular sight for the guests. They were just relaxing in the calm, quiet waters around the island. Then on Sunday we found a group of 60 nearby Bluewater Bay. This pod was busy feeding so staying under the water for long periods of time and constantly circling around. This morning was the best of the lot with 200 individuals all very playful; leaping and coming in very close to the boat, again at the island! We've also been having some great penguin sightings- with more of them in the water around St Croix, and lower down on the island making it easier for picture taking
2nd August 2016- This morning as we approached St Croix Island we found a pod of about 300 bottlenose dolphins all playing and socialising around Lovers Lane (some mating as well of course!). Then as we left the dolphins to go and check out the penguins on the Eastern side we found even more dolphins- we think the whole school must have consisted of at least 500 individuals. Sometimes two pods will spend some time together so that the males and females of each group can spread their genes into other pods!
30th July 2016- Hi guys, sorry for the absence of updates! Here is a snippet of the past couple of weeks! Bottlenose dolphins, humpback dolphins, humpback whales, Bryde's whales, minke whales, seals, penguins, gannets, terns, skuas etc. have been sighted. Though unfortunately we failed to reach 75 trips in a row with bottlenose dolphins as we searched far and wide for them with no luck, but in their place a pair of humpback whales travelling closer in shore than usually spotted this time of year- between St Croix, Brenton and Jahleel Islands. We have since seen the dolphins and we think 74 sightings in a row is still an absolutely incredible record but we can now look forward to any sightings, and hopefully many more whale sightings especially, as the season is still really only just at the beginning!
17th July 2016- So we left port with the Beastly Easterly blowing. Three Dutch, three French, two Americans and a Swizzle (Swiss) . . . what could go wrong?! We headed into a choppy sea and the guests went quiet. It was a bit bumpy but not unpleasant. A small bait ball on the way to the islands but nothing else to shout about. We sheltered in the lee at Brenton Island to get our legs back, and poof, 200 Bottlenose dollies came around the point! They were surfing the waves while we did the Bob number. All bunched together and photogenic. After our allocated 20 minutes with the dollies, we left and landed Dr Pichegru on St Croix Island to check the breeding penguins and plan her next field trip. The El Niño has not been kind to the penguins, but we will cover that once we know more about it. Another 30 Bottlenose at St Croix and back to a Sunday lunch with the whole crew at the yacht club. Number 69 dollies in a row, what a record!
15th July 2016- So after a good break to Zambia and Botswana, I headed out with a family from the Bahamas in search of 68 cruises in a row seeing dolphins in our bay. Islands nothing, Hougham Park nothing, Coega nothing, Bluewater Bay nothing. The PE cetacean spotters had seen a small school dashing towards Cape Recife an hour earlier, so no chance of catching up with them. Just before I entered port, feeling like I had let the side down, I called Nigel from his vantage point high above the bay . . . also nothing. I decided to go towards Cape Recife anyway. Maybe there were some Humpback dollies lurking off Bird Rock. Not a sausage, but then, as if out of nowhere, a school of 250 Bottlenose appeared, yah! We followed them all the way to the Summerstrand Hotel. People were lining the beachfront taking photos of these magnificent mammals. Much to the delight of our volunteer, Claudia from Switzerland, "Holey" was amongst the school. She has now seen this individual on all her three outings to South Africa.
14th July 2016- Today we got nearly the full whack of animals Algoa Bay has to offer! Our plan was to head to St Croix in search of dolphins (as our guests were especially keen to find these creatures). We were only 10 minutes out of the harbour when our spotters on the roof shouted that there were dolphins around! There were a few sparse individuals that popped up seldomly but we could see which direction they were heading in- Cape Recife. So we decided to follow them and soon encountered a more substantial pod with about 40 individuals. This pod has had a Cape fur seal living amongst them for weeks now as we soon spotted the little guy breaching out around them, swimming alongside his 'fellow dolphins' as if he was definitely meant to be there. A dolphin breached out and he then copied that behaviour and also breached. It was fascinating to watch, as they were also hunting. They were chasing a shoal of fish and every now and again would swim in circles and make sudden quick movements. After we had spent our time with the dolphins we decided to change our plan of action and instead head out of the bay for the first time in a real search of humpback whales. The first thing we enountered was a lone Southern right whale. Sitting at the surface this guy quickly disappeared, obviously not very happy to be disturbed. We continued outwards and before we knew we had blows all around us, and a couple of breaches. We spent time with a trio of humpback whales that surfaced more regularly, but we probably saw at least 10 in total! We also found another Cape fur seal, swimming along on his own. And a single penguin (so at least the guests also got to see that). Overall it was such a great morning that some guests were discussing coming back to join us again tomorrow!
13th July 2016- Finally a good weather day, with no wind worries to stress us! Our first sighting of the morning were a couple of Bryde's whales, hovering nearby to some baitball action. A hundred or so penguins, cormorants and terns (and one gannet) were lazily fishing. Perhaps not a huge shoal! Then at the island we found a pod of bottlenose dolphins, with 80 or so individuals. We enjoyed a nice leisurely cruise around St Croix to get a close-up of the penguins, with most of them hiding away further up the rocks still sitting on eggs/chicks. And then a pleasant journey back to port, with happy, smiling guests!
11th July 2016- Well our lucky dolphin streak continues, with trip no.65 (in a row) in the bag this morning. We have seen them mostly at St Croix Island, but also a couple of small pods near Bluewater Bay! We just need the whale sightings to get luckier. We've had a couple of Bryde's whales, but we aren't seeing our usual flocks of humpbacks. And we are expecting the Southern rights to put in a great appearance any time now. However, the penguins and other seabirds, along with all the leaping dolphins have been an absolute pleasure as usual.
6th July 2016- We managed a couple of days out at sea before this wind came through today, and reached our 62nd trip with bottlenose dolphins. On Monday we had 200 individuals on the Eastern side of St Croix, where it was particularly choppy due to the offshore winds and big surge coming around the island. On the way to the island we also found a lone Bryde's whale hanging about off Brenton Rock. The following day we caught some baitball action with gannets, terns, cormorants, gulls, and penguins all feeding, and then a couple of Bryde's whales to boot! One of which had a very young calf with her, only a little bigger than a dolphin! They surfaced quite regularly close by and didn't seem to mind us at all. As we were all focusing our attentions on the whales a couple of large seals popped up right behind us. Perhaps they were also waiting around to get in on the fishy action. Then at the island we had a couple of bottlenose dolphins pop up, no more than 5. But found a huge pod of 200 along Bluewater Bay (with a small group of mothers and juveniles a little ahead of them).
29th June 2016- We had a spectacular morning in Algoa Bay today! After leaving the harbour I kept an eye out behind us (as we occasionally get dolphins on the other side of the harbour wall), and was completely ecstatic to see a Southern right whale surfacing not far away. Our first of the season!! We only saw it a few times and then it seemed to disappear. We eventually moved on, and soon found a juvenile Cape fur seal swimming at speed. As we headed towards him he came straight over and kept surfacing all around us. It looked like he was having such fun, and when we moved on he followed and started breaching completely alongside the boat. Half way to the island we came across some baitball action with hundreds of penguins, Cape gannets, swift terns, cormorants, gulls etc. and then 3 Bryde's whales appeared. We stuck around for a while and got extremely lucky as two of the whales launched through the water feeding on the fish (and some unfortunate birds that didn't get out of the way in time). Seeing these whales lunge-feeding, with throat completely distended, is just incredible, and our guests on board will never forget it. As we got closer to the island we found another, bigger, Cape fur seal that played with us a little bit. And then at St Croix itself we got a nice big pod of bottlenose dolphins, with about 200 individuals. 59 trips in a row now! The swell was pretty huge and the dollies were launching through the massive waves that were hitting the island. We just couldn't believe our luck with all of the sightings we had today!
19th June 2016- This morning we reached trip 57 in a row of bottlenose dolphin sightings, as we caught a small pod at Coega harbour, with a few calves in the mix. On the way out to St Croix Island we found another breaching thresher shark! The third sighting now, and yet again it breached three times in a row and then completely disappeared. Last week we saw a juvenile great white shark!! And we have been seeing the African penguins out in the bay feeding, and it looks like very soon they will be busy hunting enough fish for the little hungry chicks too, as the eggs that the scientists reported some weeks ago will be hatching any time now!
14th June 2016- We've just had two spectacular days at sea with bottlenose dolphin sightings on both days (making it 53 trips in a row now!!). Two separate pods were sighted on Monday; one at Lovers Lane at St Croix, and the other at the Coega harbour entrance, and then one huge pod at Lovers Lane today! And they were certainly using lovers lane properly with mating occurring all over the place. Dolphins were breaching out with joy all around us. We also encountered penguin bait balls, and gannets, terns and cormorants feeding. The most unusual sighting we had though was of a little grebe chick found just off Brenton Island (which was hosting a Cape fur seal as well). These water birds are usually found much closer in shore, where they spend time during the Winter in more open or coastal waters, but breed in the vegetated areas around freshwater bodies. Although an excellent swimmer and diver, this little chick looked very much out of place so far off shore, and possibly got pushed out by the offshore winds we were experiencing.
2nd June 2016 - This morning we headed out in the hopes of hitting our 50th bottlenose dolphin sighting in a row.. and we got it!! As we left the harbour we received intel that there was a pod over at Bluewater Bay, so we headed straight there. Half way we found a small group of them, but they were heading back to the harbour so we followed them, as we had then received more information about another pod heading towards the harbour from Pollock Beach. We caught up with the big school as the smaller group joined them. A Cape fur seal also appeared to be swimming along enjoying the company of the dolphins. Eventually we went on to St Croix, and found a pod at Lovers Lane! As we returned to port we caught a glimpse of a few more not far from the island, as well as a report of a pod at Bell Buoy! There must have been over 500 bottlenose dolphins in the bay yesterday, and we hope it doesn't stop there!
30th May 2016 - This morning we had trip no. 49 with bottlenose dolphins! This time we hadn't even left the harbour yet before we encountered a couple of cow-calf pairs and then the rest of the pod soon followed. We probably had a group of 100 individuals, and they were definitely hunting fish around the port entrance.
29th May 2016 - This morning we had our 48th sighting in a row of bottlenose dolphins! The past few trips have been pretty exciting with hundreds of dolphins filling the bay between the harbour and St Croix Island. One pod on Wednesday had a Cape fur seal swimming along as part of the group, playing around and leaping alongside them. We've had baitballs with hundreds of gannets diving! And this morning the trip started with a breaching thresher shark!! He leaped fully clear of the water three times and then completely disappeared. Followed by a breaching seal who followed us for a while porpoising behind the boat to propel itself forward and match our speed. No matter the weather we always have a great morning out in Algoa Bay
15th May 2016 - What a stunning morning on the water! After leaving port we received some intel from Louis at Pro Dive about a large pod of dolphins travelling past the beachfront. We headed over and quickly saw a 300-strong pod travelling at speed in front of the boardwalk. As we approached them they soon came right over to us and surrounded the boat, giving our guests a spectacular performance. We left the group as they were busy feeding around the harbour entrance and headed on to St Croix. On route we spotted a Bryde's whale, which popped up directly ahead of us and in uncharacteristic fashion it actually barely moved and continued to surface regularly around us! And then on to the penguins! Unfortunately the penguins had an incredibly unsuccessful breeding season with many chicks on the island dying due to starvation and abandonment. But luckily we are seeing the penguins busy feeding up again and preparing for a second breeding season, which sometimes does happen if the first breeding attempt goes badly for so many. So fingers crossed that this second batch of eggs has better luck!
12th May 2016 - We spent a beautiful day in our Algoa Bay Hope Spot yesterday! We covered the entire bay; firstly heading out of port and heading South past Cape Recife. On our way past the beachfront we found a couple of humpback dolphins. We then headed East towards the Bird Island group to pick up a few students who had been busy transponding juvenile penguins there for the past couple of days. On the way we found many pelagic bird species with Indian yellow-nosed albatrosses, white-chinned petrels, sooty shearwaters, and storm petrels. As well as the Cape gannets, African penguins, cormorants, terns and gulls, all in search of food. After we collected the students and marveled at the gannetry at Bird, and the Cape fur seals at Black Rocks, we headed inland towards Woody Cape. Such a stunning landscape! We found a pod of bottlenose dolphins (making it 43 sightings in a row now!), which were launching through the waves with the beautiful dunes in the background, it was just breath-taking. Soon after we came across a baitball with a few Bryde's whales and a minke whale hanging around. One Bryde's whale decided to stay by our side for some time, surfacing regularly only metres away from us and the water was lovely and clear so we could see when the whale was about to surface. And to round the trip off we found another smaller baitball just outside the harbour entrance with another pod of bottlenose dolphins. We should be doing another trip like this next week if anybody is interested in joining!
6th May 2016 - We had a really nice morning in the bay today and we've now reached 41 bottlenose dolphin sightings in a row, as we encountered a small pod at St Croix Island who were quite shy at first. But when we decided to leave them alone they started following us around the island! We also found quite a lot of penguins out at sea feeding, as well as cormorants, terns, and gannets. And on our way back to the harbour a bryde's whale mother and calf (we think the same one we spotted last month!) surfaced multiple times closeby.
4th May 2016 - Well we've just had two completely different days on the water, but both providing bottlenose dolphins! Making it 40 sightings in a row now. Yesterday was a gloomy, drizzly morning and we thought our luck had run out as we didn't encounter any dolphins until we headed back to port via Jahleel Island, where we found a small pod of bottlenose dolphins. They soon starting surfing our wake which made the whole experience very exciting as they launched through the choppy waves around us. Today was a beautifully sunny and bright day. We found one pod of dolphins on the way to St Croix. Quite a large school which was very spread out; chasing and hunting fish around the bay. It was a familiar pod as well, as we can identify the group by the one dolphin who has no dorsal fin, christened today as 'Stumpie' (thanks Jono!), who we have been seeing for years now. And we found another much smaller pod of only 20 or so individuals at St Croix, in their favourite spot at Lovers Lane.