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.

The Welcome Whales Celebration

Come and join in the festivities at the first Welcome Whales Celebration taking place this June.

The event is hosted by a collaboration of whale-fanatics, guru’s, scientists, and locals that have teamed up to showcase the areas diverse marine life, honour the whales and celebrate the Ocean.

The three-day event will be held in the New Harbour from 6 – 8 June 2021 and each day will be dedicated to one of the three whale species that visit Walker Bay annually – the Southern Right, the Brydes and the Humpback whale.

Coinciding with World Ocean Day 2021, the worldwide movement for a sustainable society and a healthy blue planet. This year’s theme of ‘One Ocean, One Climate, One Future – Together’ will be at the core of the celebration.

An array of activities and festivities featuring: informative talks & visual presentations; interactive displays, ‘adopt’ a whale, photographic marine walks, whale watching, abalone tours and tasting, kayaking, seafood and crafts will take place daily.

 

See the full programme below:

SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE DAY ~ 6th June 2021

 

Day 1 is devoted to the Southern Right Whale!  Hermanus is lucky enough to host the bulk of these majestic mammals that migrate to the South African coastline annually from roughly June to December.

9h00 – 11h30 | ACTIVITY | Whale watching Boat tour
Explore the Hermanus coastline and possibly spot the first Southern Right Whales of the season!
Hosted by Southern Right Charters

12h00 – 14h00 | ACTIVITY | Meet & Greet
‘Appointment ceremony’ of the new Hermanus Whale Crier, Interactive displays, Craft & Exhibit, Food & Drinks
Hosted by Various, Lower Quay, New Harbour

13h00 – 14h00 | KIDS ACTIVITY | Fun Pollution Awareness Art Class – “Create your own art piece” from Beach Plastic
**Ages 7-11 years
Presented by Janet Ormond – Environmental Artist, CURB Beach Plastic

14h00 – 15h00 | TALK | A Photographic Journey with Southern Right Whales – Inspirational presentation showcasing over a decade of whale photography.
Presented by Dave De Beer, Hermanus Whales

15h30- 16h30 | TALK | South Africa’s southern right whales – Fascinating facts based on over 40 years of research and annual studies of the whales in Walker Bay and beyond
Presented by Dr Els Vermeulen, Mammal Research Institute – Whale Unit

 

BRYDES WHALE DAY ~ 7th June 2021

 

Day 2 will showcase on the Brydes whale, the lesser known, often seen & practically resident whale of Hermanus, which is easily distinguished by their sharp dorsal fin.

9h00 – 11h00 | ACTIVITY | Sea Kayaking – Paddle across Walker Bay and come face-to-face with the diverse marine life of Hermanus.
Hosted by Walkerbay Adventures

9h30 – 11h30 | ACTIVITY | Photographic Marine Walk – Pack your camera for this guided walking tour of the Hermanus coastline.
Hosted by Southern Right Charters

11h00 – 13h00 | ACTIVITY | Abalone Tour & Tasting – Boot-up & explore a working Abalone farm, informative guided tour and tasting experience.
Hosted by Heart of Abalone

15h30 – 16h30 | TALK | The secret whale of Hermanus – A Skippers Log: Interesting visual presentation and introduction to the lesser known, often seen & practically resident whale of Hermanus.
Presented by Ashley Appleby, Southern Right Charters

17h00 – 18h00 | TALK | Brydes Whale Conservation Programme – An in-depth presentation on the inshore population of Bryde’s whales in South Africa
Presented by Dr Els Vermeulen, Mammal Research Institute – Whale Unit

 

HUMPBACK WHALE DAY ~ 8th June 2021

 

Day 3 is all about the Humpback whale! This event marks the inclusion of Hermanus in the Humpback Migration Route which is coordinated by Baywatch Projects and is supported by the World Cetacean Alliance. The route spans the coast from Swakopmund all the way to Watuma, Kenya.

9h00 – 11h30 | ACTIVITY | Whale watching Boat tour – Experience boat-based whale watching from Hermanus, South Africa’s Whale Capital.
Hosted by Southern Right Charters

11h00 – 13h00 | ACTIVITY | Abalone Tour & Tasting – Boot-up & explore a working Abalone farm, informative guided tour and tasting experience.
Hosted by Heart of Abalone

14h30 – 15h30| TALK | Whale Disentanglement – A first-hand account.
Hosted by National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Station 17

16h00 -16h30| ACTIVITY | WELCOME WHALES WAVE, a fun cliff-top event –
Welcoming the Whales with a big Wave (‘human chain’) on the Hermanus Cliff Path between the Amphitheatre and Gearing’s Point
Hosted by Hermanus Tourism

16h00 – 17h00 | TALK | The Humpback ‘Supergroups’ – which visit the coastal area of Cape each year.
Presented by Dr Elisa Seyboth, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

17h30 – 18h30 | TALK | The Southern Hemisphere Humpback Migration – the remarkable recovery of this species.
Presented by Lloyd Edwards, Baywatch Research Project & World Cetacean Alliance

Free admission for talks and special rates for activities. All events (paid & free) require a valid ticket for admission, to book, visit: Welcome Whales Celebration-  https://qkt.io/welcomewhales or WhatsApp +27823530550

Hermanus Whale Watching Season is Here

Every year the ‘SRC Crew’ await and anticipate the upcoming whale watching season, each with our own predictions on what the season will hold and so far June has exceeded expectations. Continue reading “Hermanus Whale Watching Season is Here”

Hello Humpback Whales!

Winter in the Cape is synonymous with hot chocolate at a roaring fire but in fact it is time to don a warm jacket and head out onto the blue yonder as it just also happens to be the time of the year when Humpback whales are migrating past the Hermanus coastline on their way to warmer waters.

These mammoth mammals are known as the acrobats of the ocean, you will fully understand why, when you witness this enormous animal breach (jump) out of the water with agility and true acrobatic form.

Humpback whales breach

HUMPBACK WHALE – Megaptera novaeangliae

 

Between June and August sightings of the Humpback whales in Hermanus are common as they follow their migratory path towards their breeding grounds in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean.

The Humpback whale is a Baleen whale, and is further classified as part of the Rorqual family which includes whales such as the Bryde’s whale, Blue whale & Fin whale, the rorqual whales are also gulper feeders as opposed to only skimmer feeders such as the Southern Right Whale.

Humpback whales

QUICK FACTS

  • The humpback displays over 300 baleen plates on either side of its mouth.
  • Like the Southern Right, this whale feeds on krill, copepods & also feeds on small pelagic fish
  • Humpback Whales are easily recognizable by their long flippers, humped back with a dorsal fin, and the distinctive white markings on the underside of their flukes (tails)
  • Of all the whale species the Humpback has the longest flippers, with the length of one third of their total body length.
  • The white markings on the underside of a Humpback whales fluke (tail) are unique to each whale, much like the callosities, and a human’s fingerprint.
  • The Humpback whale displays a very impressive ‘breach’
  • Humpback whales can grow up to 16metres (52ft) with weights that exceed 40 tons.

 

 

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.

     

Hermanus Whale Season 2016

Exciting update for all nature lovers and whale enthusiasts!  Our whale season 2016 in Hermanus is underway.

With many sightings of Brydes and breaching Humpback whales, we enjoyed an early inception to the “whale epoch“.  In addition we have observed the occasional Southern Right whale, as they appear to  slowly meander their way into Walkerbay.  We have indulged in sightings of various species of dolphins as they frolicked happily alongside our catamaran and playfully hurdled the waves.

In our plight to create awareness, Southern Right Charters elected to contribute in our own small way to the incredible initiative of World Ocean Day, which was on the 8th June 2016. The theme was “healthy oceans, healthy planet” and is a celebration and worldwide collaboration for a better future of the ocean. It was an extraordinary day here at the Hermanus New Harbour, as we celebrated in true African style, with a marimba band, ‘life- sized whale photo booth’  and #Sustainable seafood snacks for our whale watching guests.  Everyone was in high spirits and the trip itself a huge success with good sightings and fantastic weather conditions on the day.

World Oceans Day Celebration

World Oceans Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, be it from the scenic cliff paths at Gearing’s Point or up close and personal, from our whale watching catamaran – HAPPY WHALE WATCHING 2016 to everybody!

Click to view our PHOTO GALLERY of our June Hermanus Whale Watching Sightings, photos taken by our Whale Specialist Guide, Ken and the Hermanus Whales Author, Dave.

WHALE WATCHING | 7 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

whale watching hermanus

1. Is there a better time of day to see the whales, or when they are more active?

No two trips are alike and every day we have a trip that is the best but there is no way to know which one it will be before the time, it is all up to nature. We offer daily trips, weather permitting, which depart at 9h00; 12h00 and 15h00. No time of the day is better or worse for the whale sightings; it’s best to choose the trip time based on weather and what suits your travel plans best. If you are staying in Hermanus overnight then it is best to join on the 9h00 departure as then it leaves the rest of the day for other activities or traveling and the sea can often be calmer in the mornings.

2. Would we need to book a whale watching boat trip in advance or can we turn up on the day?

It is always better to book in advance as that secures your trip, payment is only required upon departure, as all of our trips are weather permitting. You can confirm your booking by completing our whale watching enquiry form or call us +27 823530550.

3. Are we guaranteed to see the whales?

We never like to use the word ‘guarantee’ as it is nature but with that said it is very rare that we do not encounter whales. Hermanus is lucky, as the bay is much loved by the Southern Right whales and in peak season there is easily 100+ whales in the area. If by some chance you do not see whales on your trip we do offer a 50% refund on your ticket price paid or the opportunity to join us on the next available trip for free.

4. What is the duration of the boat trip and whale watching tour?

We do not cap our trip time as it all depends on the traveling time to the whales. The trip itself can be 1hr 30m – 3 hours maximum. The trip time averages at about 2hours.

5. What happens if the trip is cancelled due to weather?

We only cancel on the day if the weather is poor, as the forecast can often be wrong. We would call you to let you know and then based on availability will re-book you for when suits you best. We always have a watchful eye on the forecast so feel free to call us a day or two prior to your trip for an update and possible re-shuffle of your booking. For direct bookings you only pay on arrival so that eases the hassle of refunds in case your trip is cancelled due to weather. Any tickets booked directly and paid for prior will be refunded in full if we cancel the tour.

Due to the whale season in Hermanus occurring during South Africa’s winter months, cancellation can often occur so we would always recommend booking your trip for your first available day so that if it is cancelled, then you have the next day as an option during your holiday.

6. What time must I arrive for my whale watching trip?

Arrival time is 30 minutes prior to departure time, as we have an on-land briefing prior the trip.

Confirmed bookings will be released and can be sold on if you have not arrived 15 minutes prior to departure, so please call to let us know if you are running late. (Cancellation terms apply)

7. Are there any age limits for children?

There is no age restriction but adult supervision is a must and it is regulation for all children under 12 years old to wear a life jacket at all times. If you child is an infant, chat to us prior to your trip about what is best to bring a long and life jacket sizing.

Also see: What to bring along for your whale watching trip

Whopping Big Whales

There are over 40 species of whale in the world, 3 of which can be seen simultaneously in the waters along the coast of Hermanus in South Africa. For an awe-inspiring experience on a whale watching trip where you can see these magnificent ocean giants- the Southern right whale, the Humpback whale and the Bryde’s whale – the first step is to know what they look like and what how they behave: Continue reading “Whopping Big Whales”

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TODAY

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25 Jun 2024

ALL Trips cancelled due to sea/weather conditions

 

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* Trip status is updated daily around 16h00 SAST.

* Subject to unforseen circumstances.