Two hours east of Cape Town lies the fishing port of Gansbaai. This is possibly the only area in the world where you can see great white sharks and southern right whales in 1 place. In fact, you might see them within a few minutes of leaving the shore.
But they’re certainly not the only species you’ll see. One a single trip with Dyer Island Cruises, you stand a very good chance of seeing the ‘Marine Big 5‘. These are the aforementioned great white sharks and southern right whales, along with endangered African penguins, Cape fur seals and dolphins.
+ Your medicines if required
+ Swimming gear
+ Binoculars and camera (waterproof if available)
Owned by well-known conservationist Wilfred Chivell, Dyer Island Cruises is highly respected in the industry for an uncompromising commitment to ethics, the marine environment and continuing research. These are some of the reasons it was certified for its responsible tourism efforts by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. The company takes its name from an island 8 km off Gansbaai, where there’s always something interesting happening.
Dyer Island was once teeming with penguins until guano was stripped off the island decades ago. That has compromised the penguin population, which used the guano to nest because their chicks and young are now exposed to the weather and hungry kelp gulls. Dyer Island Cruises took the initiative, in cooperation with marine conservation authorities, to install fibrecrete penguin nests. The birds in question love these nests, moving in as soon as they’re dug in.
Just across a short sea channel from the island is a small outcrop called Geyser Rock, every meter of which is heaving with Cape fur seals – several thousand of them. The sea channel between the island and Geyser Rock is appropriately nicknamed Shark Alley. It is traversed by dozens of great white sharks on the prowl for unwary seals – their favorite food. This is where Dyer Island Cruises operates its shark-watching operation, called Marine Dynamics.
Even if you’re on the whale-watching boat, called the Whale Whisperer, you’ll stop here a while, just to see if there are any sharks visible – and 80% of the time, they are. The Whale Whisperer is an extremely comfortable, custom-made boat. It is even fitted out with a hydrophone to better hear the sounds made by the southern rights, and any other whales, in the area.
It’s not unusual to see Bryde’s whales, humpback whales, dolphins and even the odd orca. Chivell frequently skippers the boat, and there are usually 2 marine biologists on board. It is this commitment to ongoing research that makes Dyer Island Cruises 1 of the most interesting and informative marine trips you’ll ever take.
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