Return of the the Gentle Giants
Southern Right Whales Return to Cape Town.
Every year in June the ocean is a buzz with activity. The Gentle Giants of the ocean return to our shores once again. These colossal creatures of the ocean have spent the summer feeding in the cold icy waters near the Antarctic and return to our shores every winter to mate.
Southern Right Whales visit their breeding grounds across the Southernmost reaches of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Here in the sheltered bays of the Cape coast they come together to mate, and it is also here that last year’s calves are born.
Weighing in at about 60 tons and estimated to live as long as 100 years these majestic creatures spend up to five months a year here. They pass their time playing, courting, and nursing their newborn calves, often just metres from the shore, providing spectacular land-based viewing.
Southern rights are willing performers for onlookers, often breaching several times in succession to hit the water with an unrivaled cannon-blast sound.
The southern right whale is readily distinguished from others by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly.
There are a few great whale-watching spots near the city of Cape Town. Opt for the higher vantage points along the False Bay coastline such as Cape Point, Boyes Drive between St James and Kalk Bay, and Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els. During the whale-watching season, you might even be lucky enough to spot them close up if you take the train trip from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town.
If you want to get up close Simon’s Town Boat Company offers boat-based whale watching in False Bay. The whale tours are operated by Ocean View Masiphumelele Fishing and depart daily from Simon’s Town at 10:30am and 2pm. Booking is advised.