The following post is authored by Christina of IFAW’s South Africa Office
It’s not often a celebrity puts their vacation on hold, even for a day, but that’s exactly what Kristin Bauer van Straten and husband Abri van Straten did last Friday. The recently wedded couple is in South Africa to meet Kristin’s new in-laws but, as ambassadors for IFAW’s whale programme, they thought they could put some time towards raising awareness of these gentle behemoths of the deep and the dangers that face them.
Last Friday saw them, Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW’s Southern Africa Director, me and a television crew heading for the high seas in Southern Right Chartersbeautiful new catamaran Miroschca.
We embarked from Hermanus, a small coastal town famed for offering the world’s best land-based whale watching opportunities. It certainly lived up to its reputation last week and enjoying a coffee overlooking Walker Bay sanctuary we spotted 12 Southern Rights blowing and breaching in the swells below.
But we were set on up-close and personal – although I’m not sure we could have guessed quite how much of both we were going to experience.
We headed off to Hermanus “new” harbour on the outskirts of town (the “old” one is beneath the steep cliffs of the town square, and still features drying racks and paraphernalia of the early whaling industry), Kristin highly keyed-up and excited while Abri for all the world epitomises a laid-back South African which, of course, he is.
Both are absolutely passionate supporters of animal welfare and apart from Kristen’s role as ambassador for IFAW’s whale programme, Abri has recently released his first solo cd Sunlight and Shadows donating a percentage of the proceeds from its sale to IFAW. In addition the song Voices was written to help IFAW protect whales.