A Whale’s Tail

The Whale’s are here! Since May we have had some distant sightings from the shore but as we cruise into the whale season in Cape Town there have been some regular reports from the whale watching boats and now we are starting to see them from the office and the coastline. Peak whale watching season is August – October every year.

SRW Whale Tail (photo: Kari Underhill c/o STBC)

SRW Whale Tail (photo: Kari Underhill c/o STBC)

We are whale snobs and early sightings from land are not nearly as captivating as the middle of season where we practically want to be splashed and see barnacles up close and personal!!!  We highly recommend the fantastic whale watching boat trip that departs from Simon’s Town harbour daily.  Whale Watching Boat Trips leave at 10h30 or 14h00 and cost R895 per adult and R545 per child under the age of 12. Booking is advisable and all trips are subject to weather conditions. Read More…

Here’s a mini guide to help you identify the whales that arrive on our shores by their tails!

Southern Right Whales:

Southern Right Whale Tail (photo: D.Hurwitz)

Southern Right Whale Tail (photo: D.Hurwitz)

These are the most common whale sightings around the Cape. Their tail flukes are large and broad with a wide triangle with a notch in the middle. These tail flukes can be between 4.3 – 5.7 metres wide in adults.  Southern Right Whales have no dorsal fin (no fin on the back) and they are almost uniformly dark (black) in colour. In terms of surfacing behaviour Southern Rights they will often lift their tails out of the water for long periods or lobtailing (lifting the tail out of the water then slapping it down on the surface of the water!). Southern Right Whales often breach as well (leaping out of the water).

Humpback Whales:

Humpback Whale Tail (photo: D.Hurwitz)

Humpback Whale Tail (photo: D.Hurwitz)

These are one of the easiest whales to identify as they are blue-black in colour with a white underbelly and white under their flippers.  Their tails are black and white and each tail is unique (like a human fingerprint) Predators (like Orcas) will often nip the tail of the whale to immobilize it – so little chunks out of the tail can aid identification. The sight of a humpback whale tail is one of the most beautiful photos you can get! The tail fin can be 1/3 of the size of the length of the entire whale! Humpback whales are very acrobatic so you will often see rolling dives or arching their backs (which is how they got their name!)

Brydes Whales:

Bryde's Whale (photo: D.Hurwitz)

Bryde's Whale (photo: D.Hurwitz)

These whales are slightly smaller and often travel alone. They don’t dive about as acrobatically as the Southern Right and Humpback whales. Theirbroad centrally notched tail flukes never break the surface and are more easily identified by their broad head with many grooves and their prominent dorsal fin! So if you see a lonely sleek whale, swimming unobtrusively along it is more than likely a Bryde’s Whale.

Whale Watching Boat trips in False Bay can be booked through Cape Point Route. Click Here for enquries. Please note that whale watching is seasonal and all whale watching boat trips are weather dependent.

Dave Hurwitz is from Simon’s Town Boat Company: www.boatcompany.co.za  and can also be found on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/boatcompany

Cape Point Route offers day tourspackagesaccommodationactivities and car hire in Cape Town’s south peninsula. Call 021 782 9356or visit the website www.capepointroute.co.za

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