Port Elizabeth made up a big part of my holidays when I was child. As friends of the family lived there, we often took holidays together. Sometimes, holidays would include meeting halfway in Tsitsikamma but some of the time, we would stay with them at their home.
The only thing I looked forward to when we were in PE was visiting the dolphins at Bayworld. Domino, Dolly and Dimple felt like long lost friends and I dreamed of training them myself, one day. In fact, most of my school orals, mondelings and art projects centred around these clever creatures and “being a dolphin trainer” was my answer to the, what I want to be when I grow up question, for about a decade.
That was before I knew better. I naively believed that this was the best life for these “rescue” dolphins and thought that they couldn’t possibly have a decent life back in the sea. The size of the pool was never questioned, nor was the fact that they were encouraging these rescued dolphins to breed in captivity. No animal should be born in captivity. Ever.
The first time I visited Port Elizabeth as an adult, I avoided Bayworld, even though the dolphins have left the premises. We also had so much to see and do with our Nelson Mandela Bay pass, we simply didn’t have time. The second time we stopped off in Port Elizabeth on our way back from our trip to Kwazulu Natal, we had less time and less money (with no access to the Pass) so, we had to find something cheap to do with the kids.
What appealed to me was the fact that Bayworld is now more of a museum, and it seemed like a good place to explore, on a day where none of us felt like sitting with our home school workbooks. I was under the impression that all the animals had been moved to other aquariums and, it was only once we got there, that I saw that they still do shows with the penguins. There was no way I was going to that circus, so we stuck to what we could learn from within the buildings.
From robotic dinosaurs and spiders to a comprehensive look at maritime history, Bayworld Museum is a great location to visit for all school going kids. There is also a reptile park and, after getting into a debate about how the animal’s stress levels are measured after they’ve been allowed to be poked and prodded by the general public, we left the snake handler with something to think about.
One station in the museum is an audio visual area where the story of the dolphins is played on a loop. This video details the life of the dolphins, a glimpse into what the shows were like and how they moved them to another aquarium in China. It was quite emotional. Mainly because I wish I had understood animal rights in tourism a lot sooner.
Back in the maritime history section, he kids had a brilliant station that explained the rope and pulley system. There were 3 barrels all filled with 25kgs of salted pork, gun power or rum. These were attached to ropes that each had a different pulley system. The display encouraged kids to try and lift each barrel and notice how it became easier when there were more pulleys. They found the first one impossible to lift, while the last was super easy. Home school doesn’t get better than this.
There is an interactive display at the Bayworld museum where the kids can feel how different pulleys affect your lifting capacity. We discussed the differences between the pulleys on each rope and then they lifted 27kg at each station. The 1st one was impossible and the last one was easy. #homeschool
There is a lot to see and do in Port Elizabeth and, when the weather is less than ideal, the Bayworld Museum is a great place to spend a few hours. Have you visited Bayworld before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.