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HHermanus in the Western Cape is the whale-watching capital of South Africa. Southern right whales play in this coastal town’s waters from June to December every year. Multiple lookout points afford superb sightings of these gentle giants. Before you start your whale-watching activities, pay a visit the Whale House Museum and learn more about the species.
Well-written and informative installations, a photographic exhibition and a suspended full-size southern right whale skeleton act as a window into the world of these magnificent mammals.
Find out how the whales compare to each other, and to dinosaurs, elephants, cows and humans in terms of size. Learn about the difference between baleen whales and toothed whales. The former are filter feeders, while the latter have teeth. Toothed whales are generally smaller than baleen whales.
You’ll also meet whales’ fellow travellers. Barnacles and whale lice attach themselves to the bodies of whales and catch a ride through the seas. Whale lice aren’t lice at all but are, in fact, tiny crustaceans.
Migratory patterns of whales are examined, shedding light on why whales travel to Hermanus from June to December.
Reproduction is also explained. Calves are born underwater, tail first, and another whale cow acts as midwife. There is a strong bond between the mother and her calf. Suckling calves can grow at a rate of 30mm per day.
You can also find out what certain kinds of whale behaviour means. Terms like sailing, lobtailing, breaching, porpoising and spyhopping are explained. Then head outside to see the behaviour in action.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Whale House Museum
Tel: +27 (0)28 313 0418
How to get here
The Whale House Museum is in Hermanus' Market Square, accessible from Marine Drive.
Things to do
Whale expert and artist Noel Ashton's presentation, 'The Whale Show', is screened on most days at 10am and 3pm. Admittance is included in the ticket price.
The Hermanus Whale Festival is held every September.
What to pack
Binoculars are a must; a camera; comfortable walking shoes and a hat.
What to eat
Have an ice cream at the lookout point in front of the museum for some impromptu whale watching. Market Square has many great restaurants.