Spyhopping. Breaching. Lobtailing. Sailing.
These are the kinds of things that whales do, specifically the Southern Right Whale which we find along our coastline each year between June and December when they head our way from the Antarctic waters to mate, give birth and nurture their calves.
A leading attraction in the Overberg waters at this time.
My visit to Grootbos had included a plan for boat based whale watching, but with the weather wet and wild we opted to go in search of whales from the shore. We were well rewarded and spent over an hour walking the De Kelder coastline, watching as they cavorted freely in the swell.
It was my first opportunity to experience this Bay from the water’s edge. And yes it is true that South Africa has some of the best looking beaches in the world. To be specific 2,798 km of Ocean frontage scattered with a mix of white beaches, rocky outcrops and cliff fronts. Yet this portion of tucked away coastline staggers in its beauty.
Walkway down to the water.
The colours by soft overcast light.
Sunset over Walker Bay.
The best way to get into this whale watching thing – in comfort!
It was hard to leave as with eyes peeled beyond the breakers we were treated to a giant tale, leaps and quick look-sees. There were small groups together, and the occasional loner just moving past.
Its the presence of greatness and easy to understand the emotional involvement that many have with whales. They have a spiritual presence that is humbling and I am grateful that they are now protected.
May they continue to spyhop, breach, sail and lobtail off our shores always, an honour to play host. And Walker Bay and Grootbos are the best places to enjoy them from.
Some Whale Infused Facts from Grootbos:
“The Southern Right whales got their name from the early whalers who found them the ‘right whales’ to hunt. Not only did they fetch a good market price but they were also easy prey. They swam slowly, spending a lot of their time on the surface and near the coastline, and would float when dead. Whale populations plummeted right up until the 20th century but finally became internationally protected in 1935. Populations have recovered well since then although they still have a long way to go.”
“Today they are the “right whales” to watch.”
“Southern Right Whales grow between 14-16m in length and can weigh anything between 40-60 tonnes! They can be identified by their lack of a dorsal fin, their white callosities and their v-shaped blow caused by their double-barreled blowholes.”
I much appreciate this quote by Victor B. Scheffer (former chairman of US Marine Mammal Commission) –
“Whales are different. They live in families, they play in the moonlight, they talk to one another and they care for one another in distress. They are awesome and mysterious. In their cold, wet, and forbidding world they are complete and successful. They deserve to be saved, not as potential meat but as a source of encouragement to mankind.”
A treat all round and I look forward to returning for a closer look from a boat at another time.
Top pic of the whale is off the Grootbos site.