in the Overberg's Cape South Coast
Welcome to some of the best land-
and boat-based whale watching
in the world.
Each year, Southern
Right whales migrate
into our coastal waters to calve
and nurse their young. The whales,
mere meters from the shore, provide
between June and November. Humpback
whales migrate through
our region between May and December.
species that may be seen in the
region include the common dolphin
and the bottlenose
Bay is best known
as one of the most excellent land-based
whale watching spots
in the world. The low cliffs around
provide excellent vantage points
from which to get close to whales
without going out to sea. The Southern
Right whales start
arriving in Walker
Bay from June and
have usually left again by December.
The peak whale
season, when sightings
are virtually guaranteed every day,
is during September and October.
population peaks in Walker
Bay during October.
Sebastian Bay and
Hoop Nature Reserve
- often referred to as the "whale
the highest count of Southern
Rights along our
coast during the height of the breeding
months (August to end October).
Sebastian Bay has
the largest concentration of Southern
Rights on the South
African Coast. The official helicopter
count done in October 2000 revealed
34 cow-calf pairs in the Bay, and
74 off de
Hoop. On a good day you
can see up to 50. The areas designated
for boat-based whale
watching has been
carefully selected so as to not
interfere with those observing from
can also be spotted at the old whaling
slipway at Stony
Point near Betty's
Bay, at Kleinmond,
Kelders and don't forget to
drive along the most spectacular
drive route, especially the
area between Rooiels
and Gordons Bay. The coastal road
has turn-off places, where you can
stop and take some pictures or enjoy
a sundowner while watching a spectacular
sunset. The route offers amazing
views over False
Bay, right up to
Mountain and Cape
Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena
Right Whales are easily
identified by the double or V-shaped
blow, callosity patterns on the
head region and the lack of dorsal
Right whales are
usually totally black in colour,
although white patches can occur
on the back and often on the belly.
Their length is between 12.5 m -15.5
m, weighing between 30 - 60 tonnes.
Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Whales are easily recognized
by their long flippers (almost one
third of the body length), blunt
dorsal fin and characteristic arching
of the back during surfacing. In
contrast to the black upper body
surface, the flippers are white
in colour. The blow is 2.5 - 3 m
high. Their length is between 11.5
m and 16 m, weighing about 40 tonnes.
Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)
Highly distinctive in having a yellow-brown
blaze running on the flanks from
the eye to below the dorsal fin.
This forms an elongated figure of
eight. Group sizes range from less
than 50 to several thousand animals,
particularly during the time of
the annual sardine run along the
east coast. Often associated with
diving birds, feeding whales and
penguins. They measure up to 2.5
m, weighing up to 175 kg.
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops
The robust body has a dark grey
dorsal cape. Light flanks and an
even lighter belly. Group size is
highly variable from less than 50
individuals in coastal water. Commonly
observed close inshore, surfing
and "porpoising" in and
out of breakers. The species is
well known due to its appearance
in captivity. Their length is between
2.5 and 3.3 m, weighing from 200
to 350 kg.
What are the whales doing?
is the most spectacular of whale
habits, where the animal will
sometimes thrust its whole body
out of the water in massive,
graceful leaps. No one knows
for sure why whales
breach - communicating with
each other, trying to rid their
skin of parasites or just play
could be some of the reasons.
They usually breach three to
five time in succession.
sometimes lift their heads vertically
above the water and appear to
observe what's happening on
the surface. This gives them
a 360° view of the world
above. Whales are curios by
nature and will often spy-hop
|This is when the
tail is raised and kept vertical
for long periods. It is possibly
a form of temperature control
- blood in the tail flows very
close to the surface of the
skin and cools the body when
exposed to wind. It has also
been suggested that whales use
the wind on the tail surface
to push their bodies through
|Many species of
have been observed thrashing
their tails on the surface of
the water. This behaviour is
known as lobtailing and is probably
a signal of some sort - a form
of communication or a sign of
alarm or annoyance.
The hollow, echoing sound made when
air is expelled from the lungs through
the blowhole, accompanied by a spout
of water vapor. The shape of the spout
enables whale watchers to identify
the type of whale.
A loud, bellowing sound that carries
up to 2 km away, often heard at
number of males will attempt
to mate with a single female.
She may take evasive action
by fleeing into shallower waters
or by rolling onto her back.
Mating is a brief activity and
each of the males may mate with
Interesting facts about whales
Southern Right Whale
· Females produce calves
on average once every three years.
Right calves grow
at about three cm per day and feed
on almost 600 litres of milk per
day while sucking.
Rights were the
first of the large whales to be
protected in 1935.
Rights dive to a
maximum depth of about 300 meters.
· Lifespan is unknown but
is presumed to exceed 50 years
· Sings long complex songs
in the breeding season. Males sing
songs to attract females.
· The reason humpback
whales have recovered
at a rate of 10 per cent as opposed
to the Southern
Right 7 per cent,
is probably due to the Humpback
whale often giving
birth every second year, Southern
Rights give birth
every third year.
· Females reach sexual maturity
when they are about 12m long and
are larger than mature males.
· Bottlenose dolphins have
a maximum diving time of about eight
minutes and probably never dive
deeper than 40m.
· Dolphins do not have a
sense of smell.
· Dolphins have exceptionally
· Dolphin calves are born
tail first so that their heads only
enter the water when birth is completed.
· Dolphins only reach their
full size after 12 years. They live
for about 20 years, many for more
than 30 years.