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Newfoundland festival set to celebrate whales

The eighth annual whale festival Sunday at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site and the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium includes whale watching and other whale-themed activities. — Photo by Penny Graham
The eighth annual whale festival Sunday at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site and the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium includes whale watching and other whale-themed activities. — Photo by Penny Graham - Contributed

The eighth annual whale festival is set to be a splash Sunday at Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site and the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium.

Events include activities for children, art displays, touch tanks and, of course, whale watching.

Every year thousands of whales migrate to the waters off the east coast of the province to feed, with humpback, minke and fin whales spotted most often.

Visitors can learn about whale biology, see a real whale skeleton, discover some of the food sources available to whales, and listen to recordings of various whale species.

The festival started as a way to remember Jon Lien, who died in 2010.

Lien was a world-renowned whale researcher and conservationist who worked for decades as an advocate for both whales and fishermen. He saved hundreds of whales from fishing gear and was known to help fishermen pull their catches after untangling the whale.

“It’s slowly metamorphosed into an opportunity to talk to people about some of the challenges that whales face today,” said Dave Taylor of Parks Canada.

“It’s all about creating awareness. Once people start becoming aware of what’s out there and the implications of some of our activities, it raises the issue in people’s minds and it all works to the greater good.”

The festival will run rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at both Cape Spear and the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium.

People who aren’t able to attend the event on Sunday can still learn about whales through the series of interpretive panels at Cape Spear about whales. The panels were written by Taylor and Lien about 20 years ago.

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