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Plettenberg Bay awarded Whale Heritage Site status

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The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) is delighted to announce that Plettenberg Bay has been awarded Whale Heritage Site status! Plettenberg Bay joins The Bluff and Algoa Bay as the third Whale Heritage Site in South Africa, and one of only seven fully accredited Whale Heritage Sites worldwide.

The Whale Heritage Site programme is an initiative created by the WCA and supported by World Animal Protection, which recognises destinations around the world where coastal communities work together to protect, respect and celebrate cetaceans and their habitats.

Southern Right Whales (photo by Barry Skinstad)

Plettenberg Bay is situated on the Garden Route between two Marine Protected Areas (Tsitsikamma and Robberg) and supports a wide diversity of ocean wildlife, including iconic species like Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Killer Whales (Orcas) and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. The area is well known for its terrestrial and marine diversity surrounded by the Tsitsikamma Mountains, Indian Ocean coastline, indigenous forests and endemic fynbos vegetation.

The annual Plett Ocean Festival inspires the local community and visitors alike to appreciate and preserve this precious marine system, while research projects based in Plettenberg Bay carry out valuable conservation work year-round, such as monitoring the endangered Humpback Dolphin population and tackling threats such as the entanglement of Bryde’s Whales in fishing gear.

As a result of these conservation initiatives, as well as measures to reduce carbon emissions and other types of pollution, Plettenberg Bay has also been the recipient of multiple sustainable tourism awards.

Indo-Pacific Dolphins (photo by Dr. Gwen Penry)

The WCA would like to congratulate the steering committee and community of Plettenberg Bay on their achievements and continuing efforts to protect cetaceans and the marine environment!

Very few places have been granted full Whale Heritage Site status, demonstrating the importance of destinations such as Plettenberg Bay where tourists can support local conservation and see whales and dolphins responsibly in their natural habitat.

Rob Smith, the chairman of Plettenberg Bay’s WHS steering committee says that “marine tourism in Plettenberg Bay is a significant contributor to the town’s economy and that the international linkages offered by this accreditation will benefit several sectors in the town from tourism and hospitality businesses to conservation organisations and local marine scientists”. He adds, “It is a feather in the town’s cap and international recognition of how well the town does in preserving its most important and beautiful assets – our ocean and coastal areas.” 

Plettenberg Bay (photo by Rob Smith)

Plett Tourism CEO, Patty Butterworth, is very pleased with the outcome of Plettenberg Bay’s candidacy: “This is wonderful news for the future of our local tourism industry and travellers wishing to visit these gentle giants that visit our shores. We understand that very few destinations have been granted this accolade and we are thrilled to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these fine marine locations. This is a huge achievement for all of Plettenberg Bay and the conservation of our area.”

Header photo of common dolphins at Plettenberg Bay by Dr. Gwen Penry.

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