Coast KZN

30 Jun 2019

An ocean safari in search of marine life

Clinton Moodley (IOL) Picture: Out at sea enjoying the gorgeous winter sun. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

When I stepped out of the rubber duck boat after an ocean safari experience two years ago, I vowed never to do it again. I simply could not bear the motion sickness and the constant urge to want to puke.

But, when I got a travel assignment to spend a few days on the South Coast, and the itinerary included an early morning ocean safari, there was little I could do to worm my way out of it. The ocean safari is an unusual experience where you get to see whales, dolphins and flying fish up close while on a speed boat. The days leading to the trip consisted of lots of research and preparation. If I wanted to enjoy the second one, I had to avoid feeling sick.

I purchased a pack of motion sickness tablets and asked the hotel to pack me a few slices of lemon. Apparently, smelling the scent of the lemon helps alleviate nausea associated with motion sickness. This trip was going to be my redemptive story. On the morning of the ocean safari, I swallowed two motion sickness tablets and headed to Shelley Beach for the hour and the 15-minute long tour.

Taking in the beauty around us- in hopes to see some dolphins and sardines. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

The tour starts at 7 am, but try to arrive early to watch the sunrise. The gorgeous view is an experience in itself.  Our skipper Wayne Marsh has been taking eager travellers out to sea since 1984. Knowing this puts me at ease. After signing our indemnity forms, Marsh runs us through some mandatory safety tips before we put on our life jacket.

Marsh tells us that the ocean is calm this morning and that we can carry our mobile devices to capture the experience. Marsh will also photograph us and save the images on a disk after the trip. The speed boat seats eight to 10 people comfortably. Once at sea with the view of the South Coast in full view, Marsh asks us about our expectations.

“I want to see some sardines,” I immediately blurt out to the amusement of my fellow travellers. Most of them wanted to witness a pod of dolphins or a school of whales.

During our sea adventures. Picture: Supplied.

These safaris are a great way to connect with marine life and learn more about them, that is if you find them. Like game drives, sightings are not guaranteed. Sometimes many of these sea creatures want to be seen, showing off their majestic beauty. Sometimes they want to be left alone. Today was one of those days they wanted to be left alone. Besides the odd few Steven Seagull (Marsh’s name for seagulls), we spotted nothing more. Not even one fish.

Despite this, there’s more to the experience than just spotting a few marine life. Marsh offers us a lesson on marine conservation, the shark net process and the current plight of the ocean. He also shares some interesting tidbits about the whales and dolphins.

Marsh offers us a lesson on marine conservation, the shark net process and the current plight of the ocean. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

For those who want to swim, Marsh will gladly stop the boat at a location safe for swimming. None of us was prepared to dive into the chilling ocean, not during winter at least. My favourite part of this trip was the glorious view of the South Coast. If you look, you may seem popular towns like Ramsgate and Margate. Oh, and I did not feel sick! A pretty cool way to end a redemptive experience.