If you are interested in Cape Town whale-watching, the small town of Hermanus, on the southern edge of Africa and less than a two-hour drive from Cape Town, may be the whale-watching capital of the world. They certainly seem to think so, and with the possibility of seeing whales breach less than a hundred feet away, they may be right. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has Hermanus listed as one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.
Southern Right whales breed and mate off the coast, particularly in Walker Bay, from June to November. They migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctic in June, calve in August and September, and mate in October. The whales are very active, and if you time your trip right, you might get to see a calf. Entire families, pods, will travel up and down the coast.
The best way to see whales is by boat. Cape Town whale-watching tours will get up to fifty meters away, and leave it to the curious whales to get closer. You can hear their blowholes sputter water into the air and feel the force of their magnificent bodies as they bob up and down along the surface, and you might need an umbrella to protect you as they leap out of the water for a gigantic splash. This is called breaching, and there are several theories as to why whales might do this, the most prominent theory being that it is for communication. Whales usually breach a few times in succession, so if you didn’t manage to take out your camera the first time, don’t worry, you’ll get a few more chances to capture the moment.
You’ll also see whales sticking their tails up out of the water and gently waving them from side to side. This is called lobtailing, and it is probably not them saying hello, but rather a form of temperature control, or perhaps a lazier way to move through the water, by using their tail as a sail, and allowing the wind to propel them. If they slap their tails on the surface of the water, they are probably mildly annoyed or alarmed, and it is a good idea to stay out of their way. The boat operator knows this, and will create a little more distance between the craft and the pod. If the whales stick their heads out the water? This is known as spyhopping. It is a confirmed fact that just like we enjoy watching whales, they also enjoy watching us. Maybe they are following a guide on a people-watching tour.
Whales are not the only amazing animals you will see on a Cape Town whale-watching tour. There are also Cape Fur seals, African penguins, dolphins, sunfish, marine birds, and maybe even great white sharks. And as well as Southern Right whales, there may also be humpbacks and brides whales. It is an amazing wildlife adventure by sea.