The following morning after breakfast at Kiplings Brasserie Restaurant situated within the Sun International’s Boardwalk hotel, we left for ocean safari with Raggy Charters’ team where kids were excited to see whales, dolphins and penguins.
The tour began at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club, in the PE harbour, at 8:30am. We were taken on a catamaran to St. Croix Island to see the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. We watched penguins and different kind of birds slipping and sliding as they got in and out of the water. The kids were very pleased to see African penguins, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, humpback dolphins, whales, penguins and various species of pelagic birds including Terns, Petrels, Skuas, Shearwaters and Albatrosses.
Now endangered, the Algoa Bay lost about 70 percent of African penguins in 10 years, and could become rapidly extinct without intervention. Raggy Charters has been assisting Dr Lorien Pichegru since 2008, with her vital research to help explain and reverse this trend. This research has been aiming to explain the dramatic decline in numbers and reverse the trend.
St Croix Island is the largest of 3 islands located in Algoa Bay, some 3.9km from the shore of Port Elizabeth. The 12ha Island is rocky with very little vegetation. Two old stone buildings are still remaining, used in the past by guano collectors and currently as shelter by researchers. A wooden cross replica can be seen, to remind us that the island was found by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, who planted one on the island which he called “Santa Cruz” (Saint Cross, Saint Croix) island. The rocky island also inspired the explorer to call the bay, “the bay of the Rock”, which later became the “bay lagune” in Portuguese as “Bahia de Lagoa”, to eventually become the “Algoa Bay” we know today.
Raggy Charters is a licensed boat-based whale watching permit holder and now also has a permit for shark cage diving in Port Elizabeth. The most amazing marine life can be found in the Algoa Bay, also known as the Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World – this was an initiative of Raggy Charters in 2016.
Raggy Charters undertakes regular beach clean-ups in the Port Elizabeth area and has started an initiative to offset the carbon footprint by planting one indigenous tree for every boat cruise they do. Funds generated from whale watching boat cruises, African penguin boat cruises and other marine eco-tours with Raggy Charters are used to fund the Baywatch Project and the Penguin Research Fund.