Not just for their an­nual visit to our shores, but in world­wide num­bers

Getaway (South Africa) - - ESCAPE -

The hap­pi­est news to come out of the re­cent World Whale Con­fer­ence in Dur­ban was from ocean ex­pert Prof Ken Find­lay of the Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Oceans at CPUT: af­ter be­ing hunted to the brink of ex­tinc­tion, cer­tain species of the world’s whale pop­u­la­tion are bounc­ing back. The num­ber of south­ern rights, for ex­am­ple, has dou­bled in just over a decade. He at­tributes this to the ‘rare par­a­digm shift in hu­man think­ing and be­hav­iour’ achieved by Green­peace’s anti-whal­ing cam­paigns of the 1970s. This shift in think­ing is also im­pact­ing tourism. Last year, some 13 mil­lion peo­ple world-wide wanted to see marine mam­mals in the wild in­stead of at aquar­i­ums or theme parks. That’s good news – as long as it’s done re­spon­si­bly. This was the main topic on the table at the con­fer­ence, with the aim of cre­at­ing a set of global stan­dards that pro­tect cetaceans in tourism. A train­ing course for marine nat­u­ral­ist guides is be­ing de­signed for world­wide roll­out, a WCA Re­spon­si­ble Whale Watch­ing app is now avail­able, and the con­cept of Whale Her­itage Sites around the world is be­ing pur­sued – places where ‘com­mu­ni­ties re­spect and cel­e­brate cetaceans and marine bio­di­ver­sity through con­ser­va­tion ac­tion and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties’. Dur­ban, which has seen an in­crease in mi­gra­tory hump­back whale num­bers, is po­si­tion­ing it­self for whale tourism and plans to have an an­nual Wel­com­ing of the Whales fes­ti­val in June.

and south­ern rights Hump­backs (pic­tured) on the IUCN Red List, are now of ‘least con­cern’ ‘en­dan­gered’ – as do but blue whales re­main sev­eral other kinds of cetaceans

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