Dolphin cruise: Experiencing marine life from up close

Photo: Erwin Leuschner

Dolphin cruise: Experiencing marine life from up close

12 November 2018 | Tourism

Erwin Leuschner

The day starts early, way too early for many. A small group of eager tourists wearing windbreakers are huddled together on the small jetty at the Walvis Bay waterfront, waiting for the guide to cautiously manoeuvre the catamaran closer to the jetty for them to go on board and partake in a cruise. Two pelicans with their wings tucked in tightly seem to be posing for photos while a seal circles the vessel.

This is a common sight every morning in Walvis Bay. Is this a dolphin- and seal cruise, a dolphin tour or even a sea safari? It doesn’t really matter what you prefer to call it, but these tours around the harbour should be one of the “must do’s” on your itinerary - whether you are a tourist or a local. There is a good reason for it: Besides learning more about the harbour and experiencing the fresh Atlantic breeze first-hand, guests are guaranteed to see a wide variety of sea live, big and small.

Since the first tour a number of years ago, the popularity of dolphin cruises has increased tremendously. These days a number of operators are ferrying guests around the harbour on a daily basis. Many of these operators have invested in expensive catamarans allowing guests a comfortable ride and good food while also materially reducing the risk of sea sickness. It is pure luxury.

Once the tourists have embarked, the captain asks one last time: “All aboard?” Then he pushes the throttle. The pelicans previously perched onshore understand this as their queue and spread their massive wings. The seal, which apparently already has a name, follows suit. It lunges onto the back of the catamaran and unhurriedly waddles to the bow, where it entertains the guests - at the cost of a snack of course. A guide leans against the rail on the starboard side of the bow and holds out a frozen pilchard, which the first pelican snatches out of his hand. “Ooh’s and Aah’s”, emanate from the excited observers.

Dolphin cruises are extremely popular simply because guests are guaranteed to see and experience something different. Besides the odd selfie-picture with a pelican or even a seal, they have a good chance of encountering marine mammals. Heaviside’s- and Dusky Dolphins are common in the harbour area and some even show off their acrobatic skills. If you are lucky, you might enjoy a glimpse of a Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) or even spot a Leatherback Sea Turtle. And if mother luck is truly on your side you might just be at the right spot at the right time during the right time of the year and be treated to the sight of a breaching humpback whale.

These tours also allow you to view historic and seldom seen sites as they pass the iconic Pelican Point lighthouse or sail past the huge bird platform. No matter what tickles your specific fancy, whether it is the experience of viewing amazing animals from up close or going back in time and visiting the past, these tours have something unique to offer. Apart from that you will enjoy the remarkable calmness, which is so unique to a catamaran slowly navigating the cold Atlantic and breaking the water surface ever so slightly - it is a perfect stress reliever.

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