Whale watching season
Whale watching season is from July to November. See these majestic creatures up close.
Every year, southern right whales migrate from their icy feeding grounds off Antarctica to warmer climates, reaching South Africa in June. The country’s coastal waters teem with the giant animals, mating, calving and rearing their young – and giving whale-watchers spectacular displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics.
Watch out for:
Blowing – the sound the whale makes when expelling air through its blowhole, which is accompanied by a spout of condensed water vapour; this is the normal breathing pattern of the mammal.
Breaching – the whale leaps out of the water and falls back in with a large splash; whales can breach three to eight times in succession and the behavior is believed to be a means of communication, exercise or possibly to scratch the parasites off that live on them.
Lobtailing – the whale slaps its fluke or tail on the water, causing a loud sound; again, it is believed to be a means of communication.
Spy hopping – the whale lifts its head and body vertically, as far as the flippers, above the surface, which allows it to see what is happening around it above water.
When is the best time?
The best time for watching the southern right whale in South African waters is from June to November along the Cape south coast, although some will already be as far north as KwaZulu-Natal. Peak calving season is July and August, but whales can be seen through September and October.