The 25 top performers in Life Science from various high schools in Walvis Bay were given a surprise dolphin cruise last week Friday. Manica Group Namibia arranged the special educational and environmental cruise as part of its efforts to create awareness of the importance of protecting the diverse marine life along the Namibian coast and to give the learners a glimpse of what marine biology entails. “We invited Dr Simon Elwen, a zoologist of the University of Pretoria and who has been studying dolphins along the coast for some time now, to give the learners some insight on the work of the Namibian Dolphin Project . We wanted to give the learners the opportunity to experience firsthand what the researchers do and to ask and learn more about our local marine life,” said PR manager for Manica, Nolito Marques.
The 25 learners rose to the occasion and peppered the researchers with a barrage of questions. The learners were also lucky to see the gray whale that has been frequenting the bay for the past few weeks. “We were indeed very lucky to see the whale. It is the first time ever that a gray whale has visited our waters. They are normally found in the far north Atlantic and Pacific Ocean along the Alaskan coast. The learners also had a chance to learn more about the Heaviside dolphins that swam in front of the boat (bow-riding). Some were actually very keen on finding out what the subject requirements were for studying marine biology,” said Dr Elwen.
With pelicans landing on the boat, seals jumping on board and seagulls catching fish from the boat crew’s fingers, the students were also given a historical overview of the lighthouse at pelican point and some interesting facts about the Walvis harbor by the catamaran skipper, Captain Hans. “One of the reasons we chose the Sun Sail catamaran charters was because they were accredited by the Planet Green Ocean Blue organisation as an eco-friendly cruise with a low carbon footprint, the boat has a very low noise level with underwater engines and is child-friendly. They have also been instrumental in the research work of the Namibian Dolphin Project, “ Marques noted. The researchers also set up monitoring equipment and showed the learners some of their research findings and imagery.
During the cruise Manica donated N$10,000 towards the Namibian Dolphin Project to fund its research activities. “We are immensely grateful for Manica’s contribution. We had just opened an office in Walvis Bay, and were wondering how we would fund our activities. So it was quite serendipitous that while we were mulling over finances that we received a call from Manica saying they wanted to assist us. Thank you so much. This was a wonderful opportunity for the learners and a welcome boost to our efforts in creating awareness of the dolphins and whales in our waters,” noted Dr Elwen.