Whale Watching in Gansbaai
Whale Watching 3 ways.
Southern right whales spend the summer months feeding around Antarctica and then migrate thousands of kilometres to the sheltered bays of South Africa to mate and calve. They can be seen along the coast between June/July and December.
The rugged cliffs at De Kelders provides an elevated position to watch whales hanging out or playing in the quiet bay. The whales are often within 50 meters of the shore with their babies enjoying the safety of the environment whilst their little ones fatten up for the return to the Antarctic.
Pearly Beach a beautiful, untouched stretch of beach is a great spot to see these magnificent creatures and spend some time on the crisp white sand enjoying the sun and water.
Boat based watching
Boats leave from either Kleinbaai or Gansbaai and encounter the gentle giants of the water. They are naturally curious and approach the boats so that you get to see them really up close.
Then for a completely different perspective you can try a plane trip over the ocean to see them from the air. This gives you some idea of the numbers and how they interact with one another.
The Southern Right Whales were so named because they were the ‘right’ whale to hunt and heralded from the southern hemisphere. They are slow moving, occur close to shore, yield large amounts of valuable blubber and baleen and float when dead. They were hunted close to extinction, and since they have been protected, their numbers are increasing at 7% per year. The southern African population is estimated to be around 3000 individuals.
The body is large and black usually with white patches on the belly. About 4% of calves are born mostly white. They do not have a dorsal fin. There are patches of roughened skin called callosities on head, which are covered in whale lice. Individual whales have unique callosity patterns. Flippers are broad and paddle-shaped. The blow is V-shaped.
- Length: at birth average 6m
- Adult length: up to 17m, average 14m
- Weight: at birth 900kg
- Adult weight: 30-60 tonnes, average 40 tonnes
- Length of pregnancy: 1 year
- Length of nursing: 6-12 months
- Food: Copepods and krill, filtered through baleen plates on upper jaw. Eat between 600 and 1600 kg per day. Behaviour
- Spyhop: Raising the head out of the water to look around.
- Lobtail: Striking water with flukes.
- Sailing: Raising flukes out of the water for several minutes.
- Breach: Jumping out of the water and landing with a big splash. Probably a form of communication and a way of getting rid of loose skin and parasites.
- Playing with kelp: Whales lift pieces of loose kelp on head or back.
- Mating: Several males and one female in active mating group.