22 August 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds

Wonderful whale watching

Come to South Africa and experience some wonderful whale watching on our coast.

Scientists are still not sure why whales slap their tails on the water. Some suggest it's a form of communication. Photo courtesy of wildestanimal

The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?

Each week we choose images from this group to share on our blog. This week we are celebrating the wonderful whales that often visit our shores.

Whale watching is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family and Hermanus, a popular seaside holiday town in Walker Bay in the Western Cape, is one of the best places to do it. Each spring, from as early as July through to October, southern right whales visit there in large numbers to mate and calve.

Photo courtesy of Richard+Rachel Photo courtesy of Richard+Rachel

In Hermanus, you can also go whale watching on a boat, but be sure to book with a reliable operator as there are strict rules about how close you may get to the whales so as not to interfere with them.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Withers-Clarke Photo courtesy of Cathy Withers-Clarke

Southern right whales can be identified by their markings and every year scientists do an aerial survey of these magnificent visitors. This mother and calf were photographed near Kleinbaai (just down the coast from Hermanus). 

Photo courtesy of  Anna Phillips Photo courtesy of Anna Phillips

Whale behaviour is fascinating. They breach (jump out of the water), 'spyhop' (stick their heads out of the water as if to see what is going on) and tail-lob (slap their tails on the water). Scientists speculate that these are forms of non-vocal communication and possibly even aggressive displays.

Photo courtesy of Dreamcatcher photos Photo courtesy of Dreamcatcher photos

Another marine spectacle is the sardine run, which normally takes place from around May to July, along the east coast. This is when shoals of sardine (a kind of pilchard) migrate northwards. The fish gather in shoals for protection and are herded into giant 'bait balls' by marine predators like dolphins, sharks and birds, as well as Bryde's whales, which prefer temperate waters. 

Photo courtesy of wildestanimal Photo courtesy of wildestanimal

Humpbacked whales are commonly sighted off the warmer KwaZulu-Natal shores. Although they have not been observed feeding on sardines, they also migrate up the coast during the winter months.

Photo courtesy of _YattaCat_ Photo courtesy of _YattaCat_

Come to South Africa and experience some wonderful whale watching from a number of different locations along the coast. It provides for wonderful photographs, fantastic experiences and fun for the whole family.

Category: Wildlife

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