Cape Town Tourist Attractions – Western Cape’s Coast of Whales

Whale populations are on the increase, and the Cape is one of the best places in the world to see the “southern right whale” in coastal waters.

No fewer than 29 species of toothed whale including the killer whale are found off the South Africa coast, along with 8 species of baleen whale. But by far the most commonly spotted are the southern right whales – pods of which seek out sheltered bays along the Cape coastline every year for breeding.

Between June and December, there is a good chance of seeing them all the way round the peninsula from Elands Bay of the west cost to Mossel Bay on the Garden Route. On a good day, you might see them “spyhopping” (standing on their tails with their heads out of water), “lobtailing” (slapping their flukes on the water surface) or “breaching” (leaping out of the sea like a trout).

The “Right” Whales to catch?

The Southern Right Whale is distinguished by its V-shaped blow – the clouds of vapour produced when the whale exhales a large volume of air through its pair of blowholes They are thought to live for up to 100 years. An adult can reach 16 meters in length.

They are called right whales because 18th century whalers regarded them as the “right” whales to catch. The carcass was oil-rich and the whalers’ task of collecting their booty was mad more easy by the fact that the whale floated on the water after slaughter. They were valued for their blubber which was reduced to oil for use in margarine, soap and linoleum. Their bones are used to make glue, gelatin and fertilizer. International legislation was introduced to protect the species in 1935, but the southern right has subsequently shown only a slight increase in numbers.

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