The sky was varying shades of grey, with lighter and darker clouds layered on top of one another, and undecided whether to release its rain or not. A crowd, undeterred by the cold, indecisive weather, gathered on the promenade in front of the impressive red brick façade of the towering hotel. The bright white railings of the balconies stood out starkly against the brick, despite the dull conditions. Behind the crowd, the sea rippled in a lighter silvery grey, calmly and gently rolling onto the orangey brown pebbles of the beach. Amongst the crowd now, banners appeared and with a wave of excitement chanting and shouting began. Louder and louder the shouts of ‘Save the Whales’ rang out, as the banners declaring the same statement were buffeted in the cold breeze and passing cars beeped their horns.
|Save the Whales Reloaded!|
There we stood on the same spot where 30 years ago campaigners stood calling for the hunting of whales to stop, in front of the Hilton Brighton Metropole where all those years ago the moratorium on whaling was signed. There, together, we launched the Save the Whales Reloaded Campaign. For despite that victory there is still work to be done and we still need to Save the Whales…
Bycatch, overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, hunting, captivity…we must all make a stand, and say No, it must end, we must save these intelligent, sentient, wonderful creatures.
|So proud to be there campaigning to save the whales|
As the crowd dispersed in search of a warm cup of tea, buzzing from the encounter, we headed into the hotel and flung ourselves into celebrating the world of whales and dolphins. WhaleFest 2012 had begun!
From an undersea world of inflatable life sized whales and dolphins, to the inside of a sperm whales tummy and with talks from experts on subjects ranging from filming whales under water to the fight to free Morgan the Orca, WhaleFest 2012 had something for everyone. Not least the chance to go whale watching within the comfort of the Hiltons walls!
|The magic underwater world of whales and dolphins|
The Virtual Whale Watch took you on a real (well almost) boat, with real water and real footage of whales and dolphins. This year we were off to the Azores, where sperm whales lift their majestic tails into the air in a dive that would take them to untold depths to hunt giant squid, where groups of hundreds of common dolphins came to bow ride alongside our boat and where some very real looking birds swooped over head. For 20 minutes you were there, donning your life jacket and experiencing it for real, watching these magnificent animals, getting sprayed from their splashes and blows, listening to them on an underwater microphone, and getting involved with collecting plastic bags and bottles out of the ‘water’. It was one for everyone to get involved with, from little kids to ‘big’ kids.
|Virtual Whale Watching WhaleFest style!|
Having experienced whale watching, there was then the chance to meander through the stands of whale watch operators and marine charities, a chance to learn more about specific regions species, research and campaigns and to perhaps choose your next destination to get up close to these amazing creatures…