A little while ago I had the fantastic opportunity to go on a cruise on Algoa Bay with Raggy Charters and it felt like we hit the jackpot that day. Whales, dolphins, bait balls, penguins, and the cherry on top, a killer whale.
The cruise was the first opportunity for me to see St Croix Island up close. St Croix Island is home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. At one stage there were 60 000 individuals on the island, but the population in our bay has dropped down to about 22,000 due to various reasons. The island houses roughly half of the entire world’s population. The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is only found on the southern African coastline and is also called a jackass penguin due to it’s loud, donkey-like bray. Their conservation status is listed as Endangered.
St Croix Island along with Bird Island across the Bay were both utilised for food and supplies since the first Portuguese explorers rounded the Cape in 1488. Both islands were targeted for bird meat by ships passing the bay and it was soon discovered that African penguin eggs were actually a highly tasty treat and became a delicacy. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries egg collecting was so extensive that penguin numbers dropped to a shocking one thousand individuals in 1937. Guano (penguin dung) was also collected from both islands to be used as fertiliser and gun powder until 1955 on St Croix and until as late as 1989 on Bird Island. This was extremely disruptive to the birds but more importantly, it robbed them of important nesting material.
Although the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is named after South Africa’s first post Apartheid president and a world icon, the city does not have a proper Madiba statue for visitors and tourists to visit. Because of this the Route 67 Madiba figure on the Donkin Reserve has become a must stop for especially international visitors
A lot of the figures in the Voting Line art piece on the Donkin Reserve are based on real people. One of the things I like is the fact that you notice different personal or clothing features on the figures every time you visit.
Last week I took a group of students on a walking tour around the Donkin Reserve and Route 67 and just realised again how much history Port Elizabeth has. The Donkin Reserve is a combination of history and public art and lining up the mosaic with the pyramid and lighthouse like this shows how easily you can incorporate the two.
I’ve been doing a lot of walking on the jeep track trails behind Schoenmakerskop lately and climbed the one koppie on Sunday afternoon to get a better view of the coastline, the village and surrounding scenery.
A couple of weeks ago a number of containers full of export oranges fell of a ship in Algoa Bay during a storm and those oranges have now made their way to the beach, washing up along the Wild Side, Schoenmakerskop, Sardinia Bay and, in this case, landing up in a rock pool at Beachview. Unfortunately the time these fruit spent in the ocean means that they aren’t good for human consumption anymore and people are discouraged from picking them up to eat.