In winter, from early June to late December you will be amazed at the sight of
plenty Southern Right Whales close inshore all around our coastline.
A short excursion to the fishing grounds, or sundowner cruise outside Struisbaai
will inevitably bring you close to these wonderful creatures. It is however advisable to watch them from shore
where they can be viewed without undue stress caused by boat engines.
These stately creatures are extremely intelligent, graceful and majestic. For eons
they have travelled the seas singing their whale songs and danced to the beat of the waves. Mothers form close
relationships with their young, who start suckling from birth until about one year of age. As mammals, they are
born with a fine sprinkling of hair which through the years mostly disappear.
Whaling started in Norway, some 5000 years ago, with the Southern Right Whales
making easy targets by ruthless hunters. These beautiful animals are slow swimmers and float when killed, thus
making them the “Right Whale” to hunt. Even though commercial whaling has been banned for more than 20 years,
people continue to fire harpoons into these gentle creatures, causing many species to be endangered. The Southern
Right Whale is conservation dependent with about 3000 in the sea to date.
WHALE WATCHING TIPS
* You can spot whales by looking for white patches in the ocean where the waves break on their bodies. When they breach they also cause a huge white splash.
* Whales are along our coastline during the months of May to December, so make sure that you come to see them at the right time of year!
* Be patient – Seeing your first whale is an experience you will never forget.
* Whales can be seen from land, but there are also many boat-based tours available. If you get seasick, take medication or get a patch – it helps!
INTERESTING WHALE FACTS
Beluga whales don't chew their food. They swallow it whole.
In zoos, Beluga whales eat about 2.5% to 3% of their body weight per day. Male Beluga whales weigh about 3,307 pounds and females about 2,998 pounds. They reach their full size at about 10 years old.
The head of the Southern Right is large and covered with wart-like bumps called callosities. These differ in size and position and are often used to identify individuals.
Orcas have good eyesight both underwater and above the surface.
A thick layer of fat, or blubber, helps an orca stay warm even in icy waters.
The largest male orca ever recorded was 32 feet (10 meters) long. It weighed 22,000 pounds (10,000 kilograms).
Male orcas average 19 to 22 feet (6 to 7 meters) in length; females average 16 to 19 feet (5 to 6 meters) long.
Male orcas weigh, on average, 8,000 to 12,000 pounds (3,600 to 5,500 kilograms).
Killer whales are nicknamed “wolves of the sea” as they hunt in packs.
The humpback whale has the longest flippers of any mammal, up to one third of the body length.