OceanFest: Of Whales & Wonder

EarthCollective duo,  Dr. Alejandra Vargas and Dr. Matthew Zylstra were both involved in last week’s successful OceanFest, held in Plettenberg Bay.

Both Alejandra and Matthew delivered presentations during the 3-day Marine Science Symposium: Alejandra spoke about her research on bottlenose dolphins along the Garden Route and Matthew presented on encounters and insights he’s uncovered after a decade of swimming the Keurbooms Estuary. Both presentations were well-attended, well-received and sparked a lot curious questions in the audience afterwards.

Alejandra also collaborated with professional local musician James van Minnen to co-create several events that were inspired by hydrophone recordings that Alejandra had obtained of humpback whales during her earlier research.  James and fellow musician Vuyo Katsha created compositions and delivered opening and closing night performances at Surf Café and Beacon Isle (also accompanied by guest performers Martin Wolfaardt and Rebeka Reyne), an ocean cruise performance (while listening for humpback whale sounds in real-time), as well as several performances in a stunning cave situated along the Robberg Corridor coastline.

It was a huge week for all involved and rewarding to see how all sessions were received in their own unique way.


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EarthCollective is a peer-to-peer network catalysing and enabling initiatives that enhance people’s relationships with nature, themselves and their communities. Over the past two decade, this initiative has grown a lot like mycelium: a purposed entanglement of energised interactions that nourish networks and sporadically fruit into visible expressions with tangible initiatives, organisations and outcomes.