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Whale Watching on the Western Cape

Jun 30, 2008
The best whale watching opportunities in the world can be found at the southern tip of Africa. This premier whale watching spot is possible due to the fact that two of the largest oceans in the world converge right at this very point.

Throughout the world, 78 species of dolphins and whales can be found. 37 of those species can be found right in the waters off South Africa. These whales can be divided into two categories; baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen whales include the Humpbacks, Southern Right Whales and Bryde's Whales. Toothed whales include Sperm Whales, Beaked Whales, Killer Whales, dolphins and porpoises. The main difference between the two types of whales is the fact that while baleen whales strain food using a horny plate inside their mouths, toothed whales typically feed on squid and fish.

Whale watching along the Western Cape offers the opportunity to view whales as they participate in a variety of amazing behaviors including blowing, breaching and lobtailing. Blowing consists of whales creating a sound as they expel water through their blowhole. Breaching involves the whales leaping from the water in a back flip that arches and then falling back into thee water on their sides. When whales lobtail, they slap their tails on the water; creating a loud sound. This is believed to be a form of communication. Whales may also spy hob, which occurs when they lift their heads and bodies from the water in a vertical fashion in order to see what is happening above the water.

Throughout the year, residents and visitors can enjoy the opportunity to view a variety of different whales. Some of the best opportunities for whale watching begin in June and last through November. Beginning in May and lasting throughout December; the Humpbacks begin their migration to the area. In many cases, it is possible to catch site of the whales just a few feet from the shore. A bit further offshore, Bryde's whales can often be viewed all year around.

One of the best places from which to observe whales begins at Lamberts Bay and runs all the way down the coast to Cape Town. For the best chance to catch sight of the young whales, be sure to check out the old harbour near Hermanus where the whales come each year in order to calve. You can be certain you will not miss any opportunity to see the whales as an official Whale Cryer travels the coast in that area and informs passerby of whale sightings.

Still Bay also offers excellent whale viewing on the Garden Route. The placid waters here offer the perfect locale for the Southern Rights to gather and bear their calves. Wilderness also provides excellent whale viewing points as well, including Dolphin's point. Other great spots include Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. In fact, Plettenberg Bay offers a unique whale hotline and the opportunity to view whales as they come in quite close to the coast.
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