Activities - Whale Watching
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Watch these magnificent, interactive creatures from the deck of the boat and marvel in their splendor. Also view a number of whale species in daily activities such as breaching, lob tailing,
sailing and spy hopping. An absolutely breathtaking experience. If in season this activity not to be missed as the area is world renown for the best whale watching.
SOUTHERN RIGHT FACT FILE
14 - 18 metres
40 to 80 tons, averages about 54
5 - 8 km/h or 2 - 3 knots
Estimated to be 90 - 100 years.
THE RIGHT WHALE was so named because it was considered to be the 'right' whale to catch. Rich in oil and baleen (the large food filter plates which hang from the roof of its mouth)
and a whale which floated in the water when killed, this slow-moving leviathan became one of the most ruthlessly hunted of all species of whales. Today, the northern right whale is virtually
extinct. In the southern hemisphere populations show a slow increase since international protection in 1935. There are estimated to be about 3 000 - 4 000 southern right whales at present,
with South Africa receiving the major percentage visiting its coasts annually. Present populations of southern right whales are a fraction of estimated initial stocks.
The southern right whale has a circumpolar distribution and inhabits sub antarctic water between about 30° and 55° south. The whales migrate south during the summer months when supplies of
krill are more prolific, and north during winter and spring to mate, calve and rear their young. They appear around the South African coastline from May to December. They can be seen interacting
in the sheltered bays and coves close inshore and near river mouths.
The southern right whale can be distinguished from other whales by its V-shaped 'blow' and the callosities which appear on and around its head. Although many people mistake these callosities for
barnacles and although barnacles and other sea life live on these patches on the whale's head, the callosities are actual outgrowths of tough skin which form different patterns on each individual
and which are a useful form of identification. To hear a whale 'blow' is like hearing the breath of life. The blow is a cloud of vapour produced largely by condensation when warm breath comes
into contact with cooler air. It also contains oily mucus from the respiratory tract of the whale. Whales are large brained and sensitive creatures. Strong bonds exist between females and their
calves. In normal circumstances they are non-aggressive and gentle towards man. As yet, knowledge about whales and the role they play in the marine ecosystems is fragmentary. However initial
benign research indicates that whales are of greater benefit alive than dead to man. For this reason, if for no other, they need our protection.
One behavior unique to Southern Right Whales, known as sailing is that of using their elevated flukes to catch the wind.
Closer up, you can see southern right whales:
Southern rights are baleen whales. They don't have any teeth, and feed by filtering food through 220-260 baleen plates which hang from each side of their upper jaws. The baleen is up to 2.8 m long,
and is fringed by long, fine, greyish bristles.
- Rolling forward to dive, until only their tails stick out of the water. This is called a fluke-up dive.
- Raising their heads out of the water to look around. This action is called a spy hop.
- Lying near the surface of the water, with one or both of their pectoral fins above the water. Sometimes they will be suckling their young.
Southern right whales can grow to about 17 m long and weigh up to 100 tonnes. At birth, their length ranges from 4.5 m to 6 m.