Published in Things To Do/ Places to visit with Comments Off on 534 Southern Right Whales counted this year
Whale watching has been an exciting adventure for those of us who have been lucky enough to visit Hermanus this year both from the cliff path with binoculars and digital cameras and from close proximity on the whale watching boats. The whales were frolicking all over the bay.
The Good news reported today in the Hermanus Times:
According to the MRI ( Mammal Research Institute) whale unit, 534 Southern Right Whales were counted during the aerial survey of which 183 were calves. Woweee!!!! such great news after last year’s very low numbers.
According to the MRI whale unit they are even able to identify each female by the callosity pattern on their heads which allows them to record the number of calving females along the coastline.
We wish all our whale pods including the 183 babies a safe trip home to the Antartic. Travel safe and feed well on the Krill until you return next year to amaze us once again. MWWWHHAA!
African Wings take you into the sky so you can view these gentle giants from above.
It has been said that the record number of sightings stands at 135 whales during a thirty minute flight over Walker Bay.
**Bookings can be made on your behalf.
How can I organise a boat trip ?
Contact us to avoid disappointment.
We will organise the booking for the boat trip on your behalf with………
** SOUTHERN RIGHT CHARTERS
As they advertise, it is an unforgettable experience.
You will be welcomed on board the Miroshca, a luxurious custom built whale watching Catamaran, built for your comfort and ultimate viewing and be in the company of a registered skipper and whale specialist guide.
You will receive complimentary light refreshments.
There are toilets on board.
Bookings are daily in season – weather permitting.
You will be advised to bring a jacket, cap, sunblock, camera and to wear comfortable shoes.
Motion sickness tablets must be taken in advance if needed.
**HERMANUS WHALE CRUISES
How did this magnificent mammal get its name?
Southern Right Whale
Whalers called it the “right” whale to hunt. Swimming slowly on the surface of the water their broad backs were clearly visible making easy targets. They are rich in oil and baleen.
How do I identify these whales?
*They have no dorsal fin.
*Callosities are found on the nose, called the rostrum, in varying formations making individual identification possible.
*There are sometimes white pigmentation or blazes on their bodies.
*They have two blow holes, which create a V shaped spray and the blast of air and mucous can be heard some distance away.
*The tail is V shaped. and the flippers are short and square.
Where are they to be found?
Southern Right whales are generally found in the Southern Antartic from December to April feeding on the prolific supply of krill and cope pods to accumulate a large amount of blubber in preparation for the journey back to South Africa.
When and where is the best time to view these whales?
The whales migrate from their Antarctic feeding grounds arriving in Southern African waters from July to frolic and mate and if pregnant from the previous season to give birth.
The Cliff path in Hermanus has some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.
The whale season peaks in October when as many as between 80 – 100 have been spotted in Walker Bay.
Whales can be seen frolicking as close as five metres from the cliff.
The Southern Right Whale….
….weighs between 60 and 80 tonnes.
….male measures on average 15,2 m and the female 16,5m
….new born calf measures between five and six metres long.
….gestation period is about 12 months and the calf is born tail first.
….calf is helped to the surface by it’s mother to take its first breathe.
…. calf takes thirty minutes to learn how to swim.
…. calf lives off mother’s high fat milk of 600 litres per day for the first six to eight months.
….calf grows 2,8cm per day.
….female adult gives birth to one calf every three to four years.
….life span is estimated to be 90 to 100 years.
Interesting whale antics
Whales slap the surface of the water repeatedly and loudly with their tail flukes creating an enormous splash.
There is no clear reason why. It may be a form of social communication or a warning to rival whales or sharks. It may be to simply get rid of parasites or dead skin cells or for the pure fun of it.
Whales love to extend their tails into the air while pointing their noses down, sailing in this position almost motionless.
No one knows for certain, but this could be a way of catching the wind to ” sail” through the water or as a way of cooling themselves down. The locals believe the whales just enjoy showing off.
This is the reverse of sailing where the whale stands vertically on it’s tail with it’s head out of the water. This gives the whale a 360 degree view of the world above the water.
Mom and baby.
This was a special appearance for me on my birthday in August, spotted from the cliff path in Hermanus.
A hollow, echoing sound can be heard when air is expelled from the lungs through the double blowhole and is accompanied by a spout of water vapour.
This is a loud bellowing sound that carries up to 2km away and is often heard at night.
The whale propels itself up and pushes three quarters or more of it’s body out of the water in one graceful leap and falls back into the sea with an enormous slash.They usually breach three to five times in succession.
Scientists are uncertain if this is a means of communication, an aggressive display, or simply an act of sheer exuberance.
I would choose to think the latter.
There is much touching and body stroking using the flippers before mating takes place.
PLAYING WITH KELP
Whales have been sighted within the outer edges of kelp beds actively manipulating pieces of kelp over their backs or heads.
They appear to enjoy the contact. The kelp is believed to possibly act as a rough loofah for the release of dead skin and whale lice.
Take a look at the incredible beauty of this brilliant underwater shot by Brian Skerry
Spectacular moments of a whale breaching. Seen from the Cliff path in Hermanus.
The photos were taken by a guest that stayed at the Lodge, Liesl Percy- Lancaster.
Questions and Answers:
1.Do whales drink water?
No, they get all the fluid from the food they eat.
2.Can whales breathe under water like a fish?
No, whales are mammals; they breathe fresh air from the surface through the blow hole.
3. Do whales have ears?
They do not have external ears but instead have a specially adapted hearing canal that protects the eardrum from the pressure of water. They rely on their hearing more than their eyesight.
4. Do whales have a navigation system?
Yes, it is said that they use the earth’s magnetic field to enable them to navigate the thousands of kilometres they travel each year.
Ready for a memorable walk ?
This is a worthwhile activity for all you nature lovers to add to your list of things to do on your trip into Hermanus.
The cliff path traces the coastline through spectacular, breath taking sea views through diverse fynbos vegetation and you will have the pleasant chance of encountering the coastal mammals and birds that occur along the Cliff path.
If you are planning to visit between June and December the whales will be waiting to greet you with a wave of a tail or a blast of air.
Southern Right Whale
Slap on the sun screen, put on a hat and comfortable walking shoes, a pair of binoculars, pack refreshments in your sling bag and come walk the Cliff path. Although the path is patrolled by security it is best not to walk alone or carry valuables with you. Be alert.
Below are a few scenes from our last trip with friends in June 2014
Be sure to ask for this beautiful pamphlet , ‘Hermanus Cliff Path’ at the Info Centre as it contains all the information you will need to plan your trip and more. The path can be accessed from different places so you can determine the length of your walk.
Another trip with family in July 2015
Beautiful rock formations…
which these beautiful rock rabbits call home.
Memorial benches can be found along the way should you need to rest and enjoy the view.