Ulovane Update: August Marine Guides Week 2 and 3

17 Sep

Ulovane Update: Marine Guides Week 2

We kicked off Monday with Marine Mammals lecture, so cool! Just some of the species we covered were seals, whales, manatees, sea otters and polar bears. Yes polar bears are considered marine mammals – Polar Bears are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals. In fact the latin name for Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus, means maritime bear. Polar Bears depend on the ocean for their food and habitat. They also have many physical characteristics that make them well adapted for life in the cold Arctic Ocean. They are excellent swimmers with streamlined bodies and tiny webs between their forepaws to help propel them through the water. A thick layer of blubber and a water-shedding coat keeps them warm in cold temperatures both in and out of the water – they are majestical.

Tuesday was a beautiful day and just in time for our canoeing trip on the Kowie river. The canoe trip was long and rewarding with lots of birds and cows (some real beauts!). We all hoped on catching some fish for dinner but were unlucky. The night was glistening in starlight and with no cities close by we had a beautiful night.  It was a great opportunity to reflect, study and enjoy the last bit of downtime before the final couple of weeks. In the morning we cleaned up and left early to get a great start on the stunning day that befall upon us. Most of us got tunnel vision of getting back to the vehicle as we were all sore and tired from the previous day canoe up river. Luckily, we had the tides and the wind with us most of the way. But it was strenuous and at certain points we had no idea weather we were going forward or just not going anywhere at all. Definitely a character building canoe trip!

We managed to get back to Ulovane just in time, before the amazing rains came. Amakhala and Ulovane have exploded with colour since the huge amount of rain and we are loving watching this transformation! Hello Spring! We are ready for the last two weeks and have covered most of our theory, so now we need to work on our identification and interpretation skills! Good luck everyone, lets do this!

  • Marco De Nobrega

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. – Helen Keller

Week 3

My absolute favourite moment during the first two weeks of the Marine Guide course was walking into the Indian Ocean and swimming with Cape Fur Seals. Ask me what I want to do again? Go back to Robberg, without a doubt and do it again.

The weather at Ulovane campus wasn’t very marine observation friendly, this resulting our course group heading back to Outeniqua coastal environment to continue our practical studies. The week has been amazing and this place is perfect for marine guide experience.


On the way through to Brenton we stopped in Port Elizabeth for whale watching with Raggy Charters. Between the sightings of Brydes-, Humpback-, and Southern Right Whales we learned more about ocean conservation, the commercial fishing industry, and the impact of humans on the African penguin colonies. The lovely boat ride back completed the day and it wasn’t even afternoon yet!

The next day we went back to Robberg, identifying various plants along the hike to the point. No seals were surfing this time and we looped back around to assist ORCA foundation in Cape Fur Seal data collection.

We spread out at different stations and counted the individuals, family groups, noted their swimming direction, as well as marking down any sharks we could see. The elevation and steep cliff faces made spotting the seals and sharks from above very easy. (PS.. We saw some Great White sharks)

Having the beach just across the street is absolutely epic! There’s a beautiful pathway that leads to a tall staircase down to the water where we can explore the different zones of the beach and look for all the creatures that occupy them. The best kind of classroom if you ask me!

We’ve all put in loads of study time preparing for assessments. It’s almost time to head back to Ulovane campus for final few days of preparation and exams!

  • Kristin James

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. Jacques Yves Cousteau

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