The first few whales have started appearing along our beautiful coastline and we are in for yet another exciting whale watching season. The Western Cape is one of the best places in the world to watch these magnificent mammals from both land and boat. The whales start arriving in June and leave in November but peak season is from September – October. Most of the whales seen are Southern Right Whales although other less commonly seen whales including Bryde’s Whales, Humpback Whales and Orca Whales also occur in Cape Waters. The Southern Right Whale is the easiest to differentiate from the others, as they do not have a fin on their back.
Every year Southern Right whales migrate from their icy feeding grounds off Antarctica to the Western Capes warm sheltered bays to play, court and nurse their newborn calves. They spend up to 5 months of the year here and can be seen just a few meters from the shore. False Bay, Hermanus and Gansbaai offers the best whale watching opportunities and you can even watch them jumping and playing from a restaurant deck or guest house balcony.
Hermanus is the only place in the world that has a whale crier who plays a kelp horn to draw visitors to view the whales who often come as close as 20 – 30 metres from the shore. Hermanus also hosts an annual whale festival at the end of September, which is very popular with both locals and tourists. Licensed boat operators are not allowed within 300 metres of the whales making land based watching just as satisfying and it is not uncommon to watch a mother and calf frolicking a few metres from shore.
The Southern Right Whale averages 15 metres in length and can weigh up to an astonishing 60 tons. They are filter feeders and eat plankton and other tiny crustaceans. The gestation period is about a year and the calf is born tail first. It is an experience to be remembered watching their playful antics of breaching, lobtailing, spyhopping, fluking, blowing and logging.
Witnessing these majestic animals instills a sense of calm and wonder leaving you breathless for the rest of the day. Whale watching from our magnificent shores is an inexpensive and unique experience not to be missed. Let your friends and family know just how easy it was to get so close to these giants of the ocean.