Well, it’s an exciting time here on the Southern tip of Africa as we are into ‘Whale Season’ and that means welcoming the majestic Southern Right Whale into the frigid Cape waters.
The cows arrive to birth their young and tenderly dot on them for between June and November each year where we (and maybe you too!!!) get to watch the cows and calves frolicking in the frigid Atlantic and Indian Oceans. We enjoy some of the best land-based whale watching on the planet.
These massive, yet extremely majestic gentle giants of the ocean almost went into extinction during the 19th century when their population was decimated by whalers. Of an estimated population of 30,000 in the early part of the 1800s their species dwindled to a guestimate of only about 40 in 1920. Macabrely The name ‘Right Whale’ was given to them as they were the ‘right’ whale to hunt being slow moving and curious of the whaling vessels that decimated their population. What a blight on humanity…
Fortunately, International bans assisted in addition to other economic considerations assisted in curtailing this mindless slaughter in the southern oceans.
During winter the bays around South Africa, and particularly the Western Cape, provide a refuge and safe birthing ground for them. Our knowledge is limited as to what occurs when they return to the Antarctic waters during the southern summer. Climate change is also a huge threat, their birthing numbers are once again in decline and scientists are researching the effect of ‘climate change’. These creatures require large quantities of food, they feed almost exclusively on zooplankton, particularly krill. They feed just beneath the water's surface, holding their mouths partly open and skimming water continuously while feeding. They weigh up to 50 tonnes, any variations in the climactic conditions effect their primary food source and therefore their very existence.
Our motorcycle tours have always included wildlife excursions, overnight stays etc. We are adding Whale watching to the offerings on the ‘Cape Conquest’ 12-day tour.
My Personal Story:
My little experience with the whales around the Cape waters licked off about 7 years ago. I was privileged to go out on one of the shark cage diving boats in Gansbaai, our shark watching capital. The excursions which I have enjoyed a few times over the years are special. The opportunity to get up close with these massive predators in their own ‘backyard’ as it were, makes you feel so small and vulnerable, yet at the same time, totally enamored by their size and speed. In recent years the white sharks are seen less in the bays, however in recent months have made a comeback after a few years with little sightings. Nowadays the more social copper sharks (also large) mass around the boats in addition to the white sharks. Southern Right Whales are seen in close proximity to the sharks; yet their size and power is respected by the sharks who leave them to frolic and go about their business giving them a wide berth; after all, the calves are born heavier than most white sharks at approx. 1.5 tonnes!!!
I have enjoyed being up close to these gentle giants and their young and can attest to the awe-inspiring occasion it is when all on the boat instantly hush and allow the incredible moments spent to wash over them as they commit the spectacle to memory. A tear or two escapes many onboard.
We are offering the 12 days tour which this year will include shark cage diving (and possible up-close viewing of the whales) along with a night spent glamping (glamorous camping) on the cliff tops looking down on the Right Whales nursery…
Furthermore, and as always, irrespective of season, a night will be spent in a luxury Game Lodge including big game from a safari vehicle and opportunity to meet the majestic African Elephants in-person in the Little Karoo (Klein Karoo).
Ciao, Joe & Diana
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