WhaleFest in Brighton: Interview with Ian Rowlands

Kate Waite

12 Mar 2015

Learn about whalefest with ian rowlands

It’s WhaleFest this weekend in Brighton – the biggest event of its kind in the world designed to give whales and dolphins a more powerful voice. 

It started in 2011 when 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. They have gone from strength to strength, attracting worldwide attention from high profile individuals and organisations. This year’s line up looks amazing and is expected to attract 10,000 people over the weekend.

As we’re rather fond of Whales too and with the event happening practically next door to our office, we thought it was only right to catch up with Ian for a quick chat.

Why whales? Why not cuddly pandas or other endangered species?

I really believe that whales have a capacity to inspire us like no others. They provoke wonder, represent freedom and in the past we have persecuted them so relentlessly that they symbolise our changing attitude to our fellow creatures and the natural world. And if you walked into a pub and said: “want to come and see a whale?” no one would say: “no thanks mate”!

Why WhaleFest as an event? Why not just a website or Facebook page?

I’m a massive fan of social media but you just can’t beat a good party can you? When the world of whale and dolphin lovers come together, cool stuff happens.

Top 3 things that make WhaleFest amazing, and different from other events?

  • It’s relentlessly positive
  • It’s 100% inspiring
  • It reminds you people can make a real difference
  • There are more than 3 amazingly awesome things!

Please tell us 3 things about whales/dolphins that you wouldn’t expect us to know

  • A blue whale can call and be heard by another blue whale over 3000 miles away
  • A sperm whale can dive down to over 2000 metres (and hold its breath for an hour and a half) 
  • A striped dolphin can leap more than 9 metres from the surface of the sea

How do you experience whales and dolphins in the wild responsibly?

BIG subject! Short answer? An encounter should be on their terms.

Top tips for members of the general public who would like to support the protection/conservation of whales?

If you love dolphins and whales, the best thing you can do is take all your friends and family to see them - responsibly - in the wild. An encounter with these wonderful creatures does more to encourage people to protect them than I could!

Are we on animal protection overdrive? What about humans?

I don’t see the distinction. A planet that can’t support them will no longer support us and - perhaps just as important - our emotional and spiritual well-being is bound up with the natural world.

Who is your natural world hero?

Dr Roger Payne - he discovered that humpback whales sing, which probably gave birth to the ’Save the Whales’ movement of the 1970s (and generally he’s a very cool guy).

Describe your dream ‘just for fun’ safari/trip

Can I go back again to Baja California please? It’s a special wild place where every night aboard ship you collapse into your bunk, tired, tanned and dazzled by the wonders of the ocean - imagining that tomorrow can’t possibly match up to the day you’ve just had. And then it does!

What would be your super power and why?

To fly. Just because.

Tell us a weird fact about yourself

I think wolves are cooler than whales.

Tell us something equally weird or unusual about Dylan

He’s the one that spends most of the WhaleFest budget at www.I-Love-Fancy-Dress.com 

Thanks Ian!

The team look forward to seeing you at the weekend. 

WhaleFest is currently run by a small team and 500+ volunteers, with profits going to a global partnership of organisations working together, the World Cetacean Alliance whose honorary president is Jean Michel Cousteau. Natural World Safaris are delighted and proud to be the first tour operator to work in partnership with the alliance and look forward to exploring a supportive partnership in 2015 and beyond.

Want to see whales in the wild? These our our top whale trips:

Swim with killer whales in Norway
Birds, bears and beluga whales (Arctic Canada)
Narwhal & polar bear safari (Arctic Canada)
Lemurs, whales & beaches safari (Madagascar)

Related links

About beluga whales
About blue whales
About narwhals
About killer whales

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