Angie Gullan from WCA Partner Dolphin Encountours Research Center gives us an update from Ponto do Ouro, Mozambique.
Welcoming the Whales Festival
‘As we embrace the cold it must be said it has been somewhat an interesting and busy winter thus far. To celebrate the arrival and honour the greatness of the humpback whale, Friday the 5th of July saw Mozambique’s first Welcoming the Whale’s Festival taking place in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve.
The day kicked off with a visit from the local school which saw 30 children learn about the humpback whale migration, why they are so special and what we can do to help them. Beach activities followed with a guided beach clean-up and micro-plastic survey. A hearty well deserved lunch followed kindly sponsored by Sapphire Sands and each child was gifted with a metal straw!
The afternoon event included an opening presentation with citizen scientist and founder of DERC Angie Gullan on the history of marine mammal strandings in the reserve; followed by a talk presented by Sabrina Sykes on why whales strand and what to do in the event you find yourself in this situation. A very interesting presentation was given by Ronel Friend from Enviro Quest on the plastic pollution problem we are facing and we finished off with Lloyd Edwards from Raggy Charters who wowed us with some fantastic images and information on the whales. The dolphin team put on an interesting display of skeletons and other pieces including the remains of a Frasers dolphin and a sub Antarctic fur seal.
The stranding data archive and bone collection dates back to 1997. In 2010 however a collection over 200 books, life size replicas of bottlenose and humpback dolphins, a loggerhead turtle, a True’s beaked whale, a melon headed, whale ribs, skull and baleen to name but a few were lost in a devastating fire. Since then the collection has grown as we have continued to gather the data, bury the carcass – excavate the bones, clean and re-articulate!
One of the major setbacks we have faced is that of space to display the collection. Things are about to change as we have recently obtained larger premises close to the main beach and launch site were we will be able to display the collection as well as establish a much larger educational and wellness centre. Exciting times lie ahead and crowdfunding for this important educational area will be launched soon!
During June and July the Dolphin Team undertook 44 launches that recorded 31 sightings of our local bottlenose dolphins, 3 humpback dolphin observations and on 4 occasions the open ocean species, spinner and spotted dolphins were observed in the reserve. Overall observations were down from last year by 30 and looking specifically at our local dolphins of Ponta, that we’re down by 20. There were two notable open jaw events that involved the big boys! Remember, if you see this behaviour from a dolphin – he’s asking you to back off. Check out the two events here!
A number of volunteers have visited our project over the past two months. This is what Carolin had to say!
Meeting the local bottlenose dolphins for the very first time was such a breath-taking experience. Watching them interacting in such a friendly manner with us humans. The way they showed their interest towards us and especially looking at their relationship with Angie was such a wonderful way to start each day. There is no better opportunity to learn about the local dolphins, whales and the whole research program than spending time with Angie and the dolphin team. I had an absolute wonderful month in Ponta do Ouro and gained an even stronger love for the dolphins.
Carolin had the opportunity of attending to a carcass of a humpback whale that washed up as well as participating in beach clean-ups, micro-plastic surveys, data entry and collection! Find out more about DERC’s volunteer programs here: https://www.dolphinencountours.org/voluntour-1-1