The wild beautiful ocean along the Gansbaai coast is home to the Marine Big 5 – whales, sharks, African penguins, Cape Fur Seals and dolphins – the perfect place for the ultimate sea-safari! Whale season is from June to December, and September, October and November are the best months to see southern right whales along this coastline. This area offers the whales warm, sheltered waters to calve. The young right whales stay close to their mothers, suckling on her fat-rich milk. Calves in South African waters grow about 3 cm per day (birth weight is about 900 kg). This fast growth rate prepares the young whales for the long and hard southward migration to the cold Antarctic. Occasionally, southern right whales give birth to white calves. These white calves are rare, and a real treat to see as they are so visible in the water. They turn mottled grey as they grow.
Evan Austin has the enviable job of piloting the African Wings light aircraft that conducts whale watching flights over this area, and he had the following to say about what he has seen over the past few days.
“The guests on the African Wings flights have had incredible sighting this week. There are now six white Southern Right Whale calves in Walker Bay. I can only guess that some of these have migrated westward from the De Hoop area with their mothers, and are now here with us for a while. The rest of the calves in Walker Bay are getting very big which means that the mothers may start departing for the Southern Oceans shortly.
Walker Bay water was a dark olive green yesterday so we roamed a little further afield and found Great White Sharks by the dozen in the shallows adjacent to the beach near Dyer Island. At one stage we saw eleven Great Whites directly below us. The guests on the shark boats must have had fantastic viewing. We found the clearest, turquoise, tropical island look-alike water I have seen this year at Quoin Point, with eight mother / calf pairs of southern right whales in residence.”
Nice job Evan! A whale watching flight with African Wings is a real treat as you can watch undisturbed whales, completely unaware of human presence as the aircraft has an extremely low noise signature. The scenery along the Gansbaai / De Kelders coastline is also breathtaking. Shore-based whale watching is also fantastic in De Kelders as the whales come very close to the cliffs, which offer a great vantage point. Boat based whale watching is also a wonderful experience, giving one a chance to get very close to the whales.