Sunday, November 23, 2008

Moving uptown (Nov. 16, 2008 - Cape Town, South Africa)

Time to pack up our stuff and move to a hotel downtown to meet up with our GAP Adventures group and start our 6 week safari. Since our only obligation for the day is to get ourselves to the Tulip Inn 20 minutes down the road, we used the rest of our sunny day to wander around the waterfront, which we only saw in the wind and rain on our first day here. It's much more enjoyable in flip flops and shorts!

We had heard good things about the Two Oceans Aquarium here, so it seemed like a good way to spend the day (in air conditioned comfort!). We were totally impressed! They had species displaying the contrast between Atlantic and Indian Ocean marine life, including clownfish, seahorses, lobster, eagle rays, giant spider crabs with leg spans of 4 metres, a tank of cuttle fish being fed and changing colours, giant honeycomb moray eels, lionfish, ragged tooth sharks, and jellyfish. The other awesome feature was the penguins. They had a nice little habitat with a beach and waves that rolled in and displayed two different types of penguins. There were a bunch of African Penguins (like the ones we saw at Boulders Beach) and a few of these awesome little Rockhopper Penguins. They have these spiky tufts of yellow feathers that stick straight out from their heads. They look like little punk rockers. The funniest thing is how pitiful they look when they first climb out of the water - slicked back and droopy, so cute!

This is the only aquarium in the world other than the famous Monterray Bay Aquarium in California to have a living kelp forest, which was beautiful, sparkling in the sunlight with tons of fish swirling around. Finally, the predators tank, where yellowfin tuna and several types of local sportfish circled the tank amongst large ragged tooth sharks, rays, and turtles. This aquarium has been proactive about rehabilitating injured and sick sharks, raising and releasing young sharks, and educating the public about shark conservation. They had a large poster up that stated "Last year, 72 people were killed by toasters. Only 4 people were killed by sharks." Another one caught my eye on the way out, which had three panels: the first said "The world's fiercest predator, and they are well respected" - with a photo of a lion. The second said "The ocean's fiercest predator, and they are gaining respect" - with a photo of a Great White Shark. The last said "The planet's fiercest predator" - with a mirror. Amen to that!

Back out into the sunshine, we were checking out the boats in the harbour and noted that all the racing yachts that we saw last time were gone. We had seen banners around town that showed the Volvo Ocean Race, which we discovered is a round-the-world sailing race involving six teams that were on a stopover here for a week, and resumed it yesterday. Ken met a guy that turned out to be the doctor for the Ericsson Cellular team, and he informed us that they are headed for Kochi, India now, and that in the last leg, one of the teams set a new world record for the longest distace sailed in 24 hours: 632 kilometres! But based on the size of the waves we spotted off Cape Point the other day, I definitely would not want to be on that boat! Barf.

With our group meeting tonight before our safari leaves tomorrow, we hope to meet the other 20 people in our group and get some details on how the next few days will happen. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the last night of showers, beds, and internet access, as tomorrow we're headed for the boonies of western South Africa. And we can't get there fast enough.

1 comment:

  1. that penguin has the most awesome 'do ever!!! Glad to hear you're on the move now...looks like lots of entries to read up on now, yay!