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East London

East London Aquarium and Whale Watching Deck

If you ever visit the city of East London on the South East coast of South Africa, the East London Aquarium is a must-see. Opened to the public in December 1931, the East London Aquarium is possibly the oldest public aquarium in the country. Though it is not particularly big, it does have some unique displays that make it a worthwhile stop.

The first notable display at the East London Aquarium is that of the three Cape Pigmy clawed lobsters (Homarinus capensis). What makes the display unique is that these are the only Cape Pigmy clawed lobsters which have ever been kept in a public aquarium. You will not find a display of this nature anywhere else in the world. Another great feature of this aquarium is the colony of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) which is housed here. The colony is actively breeding and produces roughly 20 captive-bred chicks every year. These are usually exported under CITES regulations and so far have been received by countries which are as far away as the USA, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The East London Aquarium also works hard to help conserve the natural estuaries and other parts of the coastline in the East London area. They have been involved in massive clean-ups wherein injured, oiled and distressed marine animals have been treated, rehabilitated and released. Some of these animals include seals, gannets, penguins, turtles and dolphins. Working in conjunction with the Friends of the East London Aquarium (FELA), they are also working hard to raise the needed funds to establish a proper facility for the treatment and rehabilitation of marine mammals. Donations are welcome.

These are just some of the amazing contributions that the East London Aquarium makes to the animal life surrounding this part of the country’s coastline. The aquarium also acts as the base station for the city’s river control officer and is the only source biological marine information in the Eastern Cape. Many of the people living here have never seen a live seal, penguin or fish and it is the job of the East London Aquarium to educate the community about the importance of preserving the animals in our oceans. On a more entertaining side, seal shows can be enjoyed daily between 11:30am and 3:30pm. You can also feed the penguins and fish at the East London Aquarium at specified times.

The facility is wheelchair friendly and includes a brand new Whale-watching deck. The deck allows visitors the opportunity to look out over the ocean (with or without the use of the token operated binoculars) and watch the activities of the Humpback and Southern Right whales who sometimes visit the harbor as they make their way back to their Antarctic feeding grounds. Other animals which can be seen here include bottlenose dolphins, humpback dolphin and killer whales. Make sure you visit the East London Aquarium to enjoy all these great facilities.