Every year we all wait with baited breath for our favourite visitors to arrive - the majestic whales who return to South Africa’s shores to calve their young in the warm waters, escaping the harsh cold climate of their feeding grounds in Antarctica. Witnessing the power and beauty of these creatures is a privilege, and an experience you will never forget, whether you watch them from land or get even closer by boat. Dirty Boots is the ultimate adventure travel guide, operating in South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho. Whatever holiday you are planning, let Dirty Boot’s help you to create your ideal itinerary.
Use the informative website, and professional staff to find the perfect whale watching tour for you, and spend a few hours, or a couple of days, whale spotting on the coast. Look out for the most common visitor, the Southern Right whale, but you may be lucky enough to spot some of the other whales as well, including the Blue whale, the Bryde whale and, very occasionally, orcas. When you are watching the immense creatures it will increase your enjoyment if you can ‘speak their language’ and are able to interpret what some of their distinctive behaviours communicate.
A whale watching tour allows you to really get up close to the whales, and to learn all about some of their common behaviours. The spy hop is when the whale raises its head vertically out of the water, with its flippers stretched out beneath the surface. This allows it to peak through the water and see what is going on around it.
When the whale slowly raises its tail in the air, so that only the tail is visible out of the water, and holds it there for an extended period of time, it is suggested that this means that a female is avoiding unwanted male attention or is trying to control body temperature.
If the whale lifts both flippers in the air and then smacks them down onto the water’s surface, then it may be attempting to attract other whales to join a group, or it may be a means for females to deter male whales.
When the whale lifts its tail out of the water, and then slaps it down on the sea’s surface, this could be a way for it to warn off other whales, or alternatively it could be asking other whales to make a group.
Breaching is when the whale launches its whole body out of the water, and spins before it re-enters. This could signal many different things- it could be trying to communicate with another whale or changing its behaviour or direction.
Some of the best spots to watch whales are Walker Bay, most of the Cape Peninsula coast, Plettenberg Bay, False Bay, De Hoop Nature Reserve and Gansbaai. Make sure the tour company you choose is properly registered and has valid documentation. This ensures that companies respect the animals, and obey the rules for approaching them.
Whale watching tours are a wonderful way to encounter whales, and to spend a few hours watching the playful creatures in their natural environment. The sheer scale and grace of these beautiful animals will touch you, and fosters an immense respect within you. Witness their power for yourself, and use Dirty Boot’s as a guide to help you find your ideal whale watching tour.
*Some information adapted from http://www.whaletrust.org/whales/whale_behavior.shtml