Before a decision is made on allowing shipping access, jet-ski races, or any other noise generating ocean events in our bay, I hope the powers that be would take into account a new study that was recently highlighted on BBC World.
It states, inter alia: ‘Previous studies have shown that whales change their calling patterns in noisy places. Now, researchers have measured stress hormones in whale faeces, and found they rose with the density of shipping.’ The species studied in the Bay of Fundy in Canada is the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and the research team would now like to establish a study that could relate stress hormones to ocean noise in a range of locations.
‘This could include studying the differences between the North Atlantic right whales and their close relatives, the Southern right whales,’ according to the BBC documentary. (Google ‘Whales stressed by ocean noise’ for the full story.)
We need to realise that if we are to expect these intelligent and beautiful creatures to make Plettenberg Bay and surrounds their breeding grounds, we must take immediate action not only for the animals and ourselves, but for future generations. Put in human terms, would you choose to expose your new-born to sharing the waters with large ships, and the frightening noises and turbulence created by powerboats and jet-skis? I am sure the answer is no, you would go elsewhere.
If we continue to chase away the whales we run the risk of losing a large portion of our tourist industry. If we are indeed serious about protecting our environment and promoting tourism, we must ban jet-ski events and redirect all large shipping (including visiting warships) away from our whale sites.
Whale sightings have been few and far between over the last year and will become a thing of the past if we do not act now.