Whale Watching

Whale Watching

The Southern Right Whale was so named during the time when they were still hunted. They were referred to as the “right” whales to kill because they would float when dead which made it easy for the whalers to find them in the ocean and transport them back to the whaling station. These whales have a large amount of oil (also called blubber) and baleen.

There are two species worldwide, one in the Northern Hemisphere and one found in the Southern Hemisphere.
It has no dorsal fin on its back
– When it breathes out there is a V-shaped cloud above the water
– Presence of callosities on its head. These callosities are white warts or rough skin patches on which little creatures, called whale lice, are attached. These markings enable whale experts to individually identify the whales

The Southern Right Whale is a migratory mammal. They spend one season in one place and the rest of the year in another, and travel long distances inbetween these seasons. In summer (December through May), they are in the cold polar regions of the Southern Hemisphere where food (mainly krill) is present and plentiful. Winters (June through November) are spent around the shallow coastal waters of Southern Africa, South America and Australia.

The shallow, sandy-bottomed and sheltered bays of our coastline are perfect for mating, calving, nursing their young and resting

One female will mate with a number of males. There can be even up to 8 males at a time trying to mate with one female. During mating, there is a lot of activity on the surface (splashing, pushing, shoving, large and frequent blows). The male producing the most sperm is probably the father of the calf. This mating strategy is known as sperm competition.

Females usually have one calf every three years. Gestation (pregnancy) is about 13 months. Most calves are born during August. They have an average length of 6.1 metres (20 feet). They suckle for 4 to 8 months and drink up to 600 litres of milk per day growing 3 cm (1.2 inch) per day. The mothers apparently do not feed during this time but live on the blubber they store up during the summer feeding season closer to Antarctica.

After the mating and calving season ends (November / December), the Southern Right Whales move South. By April they are between 50 and 55 degrees South (2000 kilometres or 1300 miles South of Cape Town) where they then feed.

Females measure about 13.9m and males are generally slightly smaller, with the average weight estimated at 41 tons. They have a life expectancy of about 50 years.

Bryde’s whales, Common and Bottlenose dolphins, seal,
penguins and a variety of sea birds

Summer whale watching is the ‘off peak’ whale season, the Bryde’s
whale is the only whale species likely to be seen.

Southern Right Charters, as a permitted operator offers
boat-based whale and dolphin watching tours from the New
Harbour in Hermanus. During the tour the friendly crew is on
hand to make sure a great experience is had, from helping
get the perfect photo opportunity, to serving complimentary
light refreshments.

The guide, will interpret the marine life encountered enroute
and provide insight while the action is taking place, and
the videographer will ensure the best footage is captured.

The Whale Watching Experience
An exhilarating two-hour voyage to discover Walkerbay’s wonderful wildlife, stunning coastline and famous whales. Depending on conditions and recent sightings, you could find yourself exploring the coast towards De Plaat or the sandy beaches of Hawston, in search of the stars of the whale watching trip – Southern Right Whales.
On the way to our whale watching area we regularly encounter two different whale species inhabiting these waters, Humpback and Bryde’s whales. Each trip is different, which makes the experience even more exciting! When we set out from the harbour we never know exactly what kind of whales wait for us out at sea on that particular day. While you enjoy your whale watching we will serve you crisps and cold drinks.

Return to land:
You can enjoy the boat ride and magnificent landscapes while summing up the experiences of the trip with our friendly guides.
Because we are dealing with wild animals, it might happen, especially in the beginning of the season, that there were no sightings. In a case of no sightings, we offer you the option to join us on another trip free of charge.
Full refunds will only be applicable for company cancellations due to the weather.

“Humpback” refers to the habit of raising and bending its back in preparation for the dive, accentuating the pronounced hump in front of the dorsal fin.
The humpback whale is a baleen whale and a rorqual whale with a rounded body narrowing to a slender tail. The bulky head and jaws have numerous knobs that contain hair follicles and provide sites for barnacles and whale lice.

Humpback Whales are easily distinguished by their remarkably long flippers up to as much as a third of its total body length. They are named after a Norwegian, John Bryde, who, in 1912, financed the first scientific investigation of whales in South African waters.

The most distinctive external character from other baleen whales is
• the presence of three prominent ridges on the head that run from the tip of the snout.
• The top of the head is broad and flat.
• The dorsal fin is about 45 cm long, sickle-shaped and with a pointed tip.

Bryde’s whales do not gather in large groups, usually seen singly or in groups of 2-3. In this area, they are inshore, within 20miles from the coast and are seen throughout the year. It is common to see Bryde’s whales feeding in patches of sardines or anchovy, especially in summer. They consume about 600kg fish per day. Bryde’s Whales move slow, 2- 7 km/ph. but can swim as fast as 20-25km/hr. Like other baleen whales, they have 2 blowholes. Their spout is 3-4m high. Bryde’s whales produce short, powerful low-frequency moaning sounds.

Every whale watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Southern Right Whales are the stars of the show from June – November during the annual whale watching season. A typical whale watching trip may encounter Cape Fur Seals, pods of Common & Bottlenose Dolphins and the endangered African penguins.

Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales and resident Bryde’s Whales. Cape Coastal waters also attract the largest concentration and variety of seabirds.

Our staff constantly monitors the weather and responds professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is cancelled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passengers travelling to join us on the day of their trip are strongly advised to telephone us for a sea condition update.

When a tour is cancelled, you can change the booking to the next available tour.

The actual time on the water is up to 2 hours including check-in time and safety briefing. Allow 90 minute transport time from Cape Town.

• Weather appropriate clothing, remember it’s always a little colder at sea than it is on land
• Sensible shoes (No high heel shoes)
• Hot Days: Sun block, sunglasses & cap or hat
• Cold Days: Windbreaker jacket, gloves and ‘beanie’
• Camera and or Video Camera

If you are susceptible to motion-sickness you should take the necessary precaution prior to arrival according to the prescribed medication. Hermanus Whale Watchers also sells natural active motion-sickness tablets but we are not permitted to sell medicated options which can be purchased at the local pharmacy located in the town centre. All our whale watching tours are graded with a seasickness warning announced at the safety briefing prior to trip departure.

We serve complimentary cold drinks, water and crisps. There are two restaurants and a pub located in the Hermanus New Harbour, within walking distance from the parking area. No alcohol is permitted on a whale watching trips as per permit regulations.

PS Your every wish .. is our Command