The Orca Foundation is part of a volunteer community dedicated to marine conservation in South Africa, and like many conservation projects depends on the willingness of others to contribute their time and dedication to furthering the volunteer and conservation ethics that go hand in hand for a better future.
ORCA Foundation found its humble beginnings during a hike between two friends, Tony Lubner (left in photo) and Mark Valentine (not present in photo), on the Robberg Peninsula. Tony and Mark noticed silverfish, a staple in the dolphin diet, being caught by foreign boats in the distance. In the weeks following, dolphins began to disappear from the bay. Not surprisingly, the cause for their disappearance was the dissipating food source; silverfish were almost removed from the bay entirely by fisherman. This event raised many concerns for the citizens of beautiful Plettenberg Bay, which is home to some of the most amazing marine wildlife animals, including bottlenose dolphins, humpback dolphins, common dolphins, orca whales, humpback whales, southern right whales and great white sharks. In response to these concerns, Tony and Mark created an educational wing to add to their pre-existing marine eco-tourism company, Ocean Blue Adventures. This addition focused on marine education, conservation, and research, and was aptly named Ocean Research Conservation Africa, or ORCA for short. When the program first started in 2000, its prime target was to create a bay management plan with the help of its first research students: Kyle Smith and Kelley King. A partnership was born between the government organization, Cape Nature, to police the Bay. ORCA provided the needed equipment and Cape Nature enforced the law. Within a couple of months, no illegal boats could be found in the bay.
It wasn’t long before the community started noticing improvements and expressing curiosity about the different “works in progress” at the foundation. The local interest and desire to help ORCA’s cause snow-balled into what is now the volunteer program, where people from all over the world come to dedicate their time and help progress ORCA’s education, research, and conservation initiatives.