Remember when you were a child and there was one thing that you liked (like a certain type of chocolate or favourite animal) that your parents told all your relatives about? So for the next 20 plus years, sure enough every birthday and Christmas, you were inundated with gifts relating to these specific things. Mine was whales and dolphins. By the age of nine, I had been given five adoption certificates for different species inhabiting waters off a Scottish coast, a plethora of sea mammal pottery ornaments and several rather large fluffy Orcas.
Now I’m sure while most people grow out of these phases, I never really did. Sure, I don’t still have a crazy collection of Poole pottery dolphins cluttering up the place but my awe and admiration for these creatures is unchanging (it also grew to include sharks after I watched Jaws at the age of ten and decided that they were awesome). This is why the arrival of WhaleFest to Brighton over the last few years has been a highlight of my social calendar.
In 2011, old friends and founders of Planet Whale, Ian Rowlands and Dylan Walker had a dream: to create the biggest, most popular event of its kind and touch the hearts and minds of a huge audience, inspiring them to be an army of ambassadors to defend whales, dolphins, marine life and oceans. That’s WhaleFest. Coming to the Brighton Centre on Sat 14 – Sun 15 Mar, WhaleFest is the biggest whale and dolphin festival in the world and never fails to both entertain and educate visitors on issues surrounding marine conservation.
This year, you will be able to experience so much, with guest speakers such as the Whalefest guest director Steve Backshall, Michaela Strachan and Ric O’ Barry (who was behind the award-winning documentary ‘The Cove’), to watching a live video link to Captain Paul Watson – founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation society – talking about all their campaign updates. There will be lots happening on the festival main stage but don’t miss some of the incredible interactive areas like the submarine 360 adventure, the kids’ Shark Zone or go virtual whale watching! An inflatable Orca has also swum into town and will popping up all over Brighton in the weeks leading up the event so get involved with some whale watching of your own.
If you feel particularly passionate about marine conservation and enjoy taking a good selfie, you can incorporate both and take a #Whalefie to help raise awareness amongst your friends and family. Just take a picture with something whale-related and even if you don’t have anything, you can improvise with pictures on your computer or even a #Whalefie sign. Over 400 have been sent in already so get snapping and send in your best pose to email@example.com.
Now run by a small team and more than 500 amazing volunteers, all profits of Whalefest go to a global partnership of organisations working together: the World Cetacean Alliance (honorary president, Jean Michel Cousteau). Profits go this year to a campaign to keep them #wildandfree, not in captivity.
For more information and full details of the WhaleFest programme, please visit www.whale-fest.com
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