Raggy Charters Maiden Voyage to Bird Island

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In our November 2018 newsletter we told you about WCA Partner Raggy Charters new boat, My China. Here Lloyd Edwards talks of their eventful maiden voyage to Bird Island in Algoa Bay, South Africa.

Finally the day had arrived to take ‘My China’ on her maiden voyage to Bird Island, some 65km from Port Elizabeth. We had such an amazing maiden voyage to St Croix Island (see the news piece on a breaching dwarf minke whale) that we doubted if we could replicate what we saw that day. How wrong they were!

The cruise started off at 7am in thick mist, which makes it really difficult to see any action, but soon they encountered a small school of around 50 long-beaked common dolphins. Skipper Jake kept a perfect safe distance and speed, allowing Lloyd to get some nice photos. The overcast conditions and mist gave some beautiful reflections and there was no wind giving the water surface a beautiful oily look. Long-beaked common dolphins are usually observed in groups of 1000 to 3000 individuals. At this time of year large shoals of bait fish start moving up the east coast of South Africa. They are in turn preyed upon by all the top predators, culminating in the world famous ‘Sardine Run’.

It was not long until this small group of dolphins led Lloyd and his crew to a much larger school of around 2000 dolphins! Amongst the group that day were plenty of newborn calves. The long-beaked common dolphins encountered off the coast of South Africa have a peak in calving this time of year, and it is suspected that females use the sardine run to wean their calves.

In total the crew and passengers of My China encountered four species of dolphins, two species of whale, Cape Gannet, South African fur seals and various species of pelagic seabird, all in one trip! So much did they encounter that they only came back to port after 5pm. What a long but absolutely wonderful day in Algoa Bay.

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