Trip Status

Whale Season is here!

The month of June brings out a palpable excitement amongst the Southern Right Charters crew. Every year around this time, the southern right whales that have been feasting further south in the Southern Ocean make their way north to our waters to mate and calve in the protected bays of the Southern Cape.

For many of us, the start of the whale season can produce some of our most memorable tours. The uncertainty and variability of sightings may have something to do with it. Treating each tour as an expedition in itself.

Our first whale watching tour of the season took place on the 2nd of June, and anticipation built in the days leading up to the tour. What would we see?

At 9am, Miroshca, our whale watching catamaran made her way out of the Hermanus New Harbour and into Walker Bay in search of our flippered friends. A disturbance on the water was spotted a few miles out, which was determined to be an exceptionally large pod of common dolphin, estimated to be in the range of 6000 animals. The pod headed in our direction and proceeded to encircle the boat while porpoising and playing, giving everyone an amazing experience, while feeling as if we were part of the pod.

Migratory Humpbacks, resident Brydes & the arrival of the Southern Right whales

The first half of the month offered idyllic sea conditions and a good amount of winter sun. We enjoyed sightings of passing Humpback whales that gave us an aerial show while enjoying a pit stop in our bay on their trip further north to their breeding grounds, elusive resident Bryde’s whales that left us longing for more, often only presenting a blow followed by a quick glimpse of a dorsal fin, and even a Mola mola sunfish that curiously circled our boat numerous times giving all a good view.

Our first Southern Right Whale for the 2021 Hermanus Whale season was encountered on the 13th of June 2021, with sporadic sightings of this species up until the Cape of Storms reared her head for the latter part of the month, resulting in 14 days of ‘no sea days’ and the calm waters of Walker Bay that brings the whales here to calve were not left in the calmest state. Luckily for the southern rights, they are used to much rougher conditions, spending a large portion of the year feeding in waters home to the roaring 40’s through to the screaming 60’s. The number of whales in the bay steadily increased, and many powdery blows and the odd fluke were seen from the shore during our land-based whale tours while we walked the Hermanus Cliff paths to some of our favoured lookout points.

The number of Southern Right Whales in the bay is on the rise

Once the weather gave some reprieve, we were back out on the water, the southern right whales, now here in full swing. Noteworthy for this early in the season was sighting mom and calf pairs, a highlight being a calf out in the bay trying to master the art of using its fluke. A largely cartilage filled fluke with little muscle turns into a large floppy mass, but after numerous attempts, some coordination was obtained and the calf managed what looked to be its first ever lobtail, much to the delight of its supporters on the boat.

So far, July has brought about numerous mating groups in the bay, with more and more whales arriving from their more southern latitudes. These mating groups are incredible to see, with up to seven animals in one group being the largest group to date. The mating groups consist of one female and up to six males, forming what can best be described as a pleasant form of “whale soup”, with whales rolling around each other in a beautiful mess of splashes and white water. There is no aggression shown during these moments, just large amounts of fondling as the males wait for their turn to mate with the female.

Rare encounter of Humpback dolphins

Another highlight of July was a great sighting of a small pod of Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins, right outside the harbour wall. These dolphins have a stocky build, with a distinct hump on their back underneath the dorsal fin. They are seldom seen compared to our more common species, the Bottlenose and Common Dolphins that are often encountered.

With whale numbers in the bay rapidly increasing, every tour provides us with a different and exciting experience.

Its a #GO for Greater Oceans

Southern Right Charters is super excited to launch The Great Oceans Initiative (#GO) to make a daily difference by reducing the amount of litter that ends up polluting our oceans.

Every year will welcome a new theme and this year it is all about marine debris and curbing it.

Did you know that according to the CSIRO study, roughly 80% of marine debris originates from land? By making small changes in our daily lives, we land mammals can do something about those stats!

Satellite socio and environmental campaigns that speak to this goal are ongoing and will dovetail with this initiative. Some of these are: Our #GOTalk where the SRC crew visited Hermanus Waldorf School, Living Hope Child Support and Just Care children to educate them on how to re-use, reduce and recycle to ensure that Splashy the Seal and Dizzy the Dolphin have a cleaner environment. Of course our enthusiasm for whales spilled over into an introductory talk on the wonders of whales in Hermanus and we ended with a drawing competition to win a boat based whale watching family voucher.

#GOWalk was initiated last year and this clean-up campaign is ready to go AWOL! Be it by boat, pool-net or bundu-bashing, the SRC crew will be on it with regular clean-ups of all the hard-to-get-to corners of the New Harbour in Hermanus.

Our #GOGetInvovled campaign is getting out there, finding like-minded ‘good stuff’ happening in our local community in which we can get involved. In this spirit we have appointed our ‘Butt Ambassador’ here at Southern Right Charters. She has been busily collecting ‘stompies’ around the harbour for the past couple of months to aid the Whale Coast Conservation ‘BinyourButt’ campaign. At the recent launch of the campaign in Hermanus, our ambassador took involvement to a whole new level and created awareness by becoming a giant cigarette! We eagerly await the installation of the SRC Sponsored ‘Butt Bin’ in the Hermanus New Harbour this July,

The Southern Right Charters’ Crew are excited to see where this Greater Oceans Initiative will ‘GO’ next!

GO Walk coastal Clean Up Bin your butt Campaign

GoTalk Greater Oceans Campaign #GoWalk Coastal Clean-up

Whale Watching Sighting Update | August 2016

So much activity out on the water this past month, the Southern Right Whale numbers in the bay have increased exponentially and many of the trips have extended into marine safari’s with a variety of marine life seen. Read more on our whale watching sightings summary below:

WHALE WATCHING SIGHTING SUMMARY

  • Humpback whales were encountered on two of August’s trips.
  • Noteworthy interaction between southern right and humpback whales encountered on the 19th August.
  • Large groups of Southern Right whales mating observed 42 times this past month.
  • Our guests were in awe when they saw not one but 2 Mola Mola Sunfish during the same trip, one of these peculiar fish even came right up to the boat to have a closer look at us.
  • Bryde’s whales have been regularly seen during our tours.
  • Humpback dolphins were seen 3 times during August. Strangely, we have encountered this species more this year than any other year. Sighting photos that we submitted for identification confirm re-sighting of known individuals.
  • Common dolphins were encountered only once in August, there were roughly 130 dolphins in the pod.
  • Sightings of Cape Fur Seals and African penguins have nearly been a daily occurrence.

     

Winter Whale Watching | July Sightings 2016

So early into the month and already so much activity, winter whale watching in Hermanus is getting the thumbs up!

With the number of southern right whales on the rise, more than 20 whales were encountered during one trip earlier this week. Wonderful bucket list moments and varied marine life sightings of Southern right & Humpback whales, Cape fur seals and African penguins. Typical to South Africa’s winter, recent sightings of the Sub Antarctic Skua and Shy Albatross is a highlight for any bird-watcher.

Thanks Dave De Beer for capturing the moments.

The 5 best whale watching points on the Cape Whale Coast

Whether you’ve already arrived or still on your way to Hermanus, the Cape Whale Coast one of the country’s best places to participate in on-land whale watching. Here are our top-five must-stop spots.

 1. Clarens Drive (R44)

Self-drivers should seriously consider taking the scenic coastal route from Cape Town to Hermanus, or vice versa. This scenic route offers spectacular views across the bay and can easily be compared to the famous Chapman’s Peak route for its beauty. Leave Cape Town on the N2 then turn right towards Strand on the R44, which you’ll follow all the way. After Gordon’s Bay is Stony Point Penguin Colony – don’t miss this African penguin breeding spot. Then enjoy lunch and a walk through the cultivated fynbos gardens of the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. After Kleinmond, the R44 will merge with the R43 – turn right towards Hermanus.

Hermanus Old Harbour

2. Rotary Way

Take the mostly-tarred road less travelled to the summit of the mountain range that welcomes you to Hermanus. From Cape Town, approximately 2km before Hermanus town centre turn left into Malva Road before the Gateway Shopping Centre, and follow the Rotary Way signs. You’ll want to stop at various points along Rotary Way for views of Vermont, the Hemel and Aarde Valley, Hermanus’ harbours and, of course, the whales. Rotary Way ends at a parking lot that overlooks the spectacular scene of Hermanus and its southern right whales in Walker Bay. Bring refreshments and prepare to spend a long time taking in the unbeatable sights.

 

3. Gearing’s Point

It’s from Gearing’s Point at Hermanus’ Old Harbour where people looked out for the fishermen who came in with their catch of the day. Its orientation offered a great view of incoming boats, and today it is one of the ideal spots from where to eye the southern right whales. Should the point get crowded, walk along the paths or relax with a picnic basket on benches and patches of grass. When gazing out at the bay, to the left you will see the New Harbour in the distance, here you can join one of our boat based whale watching trips to get a closer look at these gigantic mammals.Hermanus

4. Sievers Punt

Sievers Punt is in Hermanus at 306 Main Road and right next door to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Ask locals how to get there, and you won’t be sorry. This is one of the most fruitful whale-watching spots. Sievers Punt is right next to popular fishing spot Kraal Rock and other whale hotspot Die Gang. It’s an easy amble from Hermanus’ town square, but if you’re pressed for time you can quickly drive there, too.

 

5. De Kelders

De Kelders is about 40km east of Hermanus, past Stanford. The seaside village is named after the numerous caves that have been carved into the high sandstone cliffs.  During season, southern right whales swim just metres from the rocky shore, and your vantage point is world-class. While here you should visit the Walker Bay Nature Reserve with its +20km trail along the coast. You could be lucky enough to spot the Cape clawless otter, bushbuck, duiker, and steenbok.

 

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Saturday
02 Mar 2024

Hermanus: End of the Southern Right Whale Season 2023

For more info on the current Humpback Season on the West Coast with Whale ExpeditionSA

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info@whaleexpedition.co.za

+27 82 353 0550

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* Trip status is updated daily around 16h00 SAST.

* Subject to unforseen circumstances.