South Africa apparently is a great place for whale watching whether it be smaller dolphins like Bottlenoses or bigger marine mammals like Humpbacks or Southern Right Whales. There is approx. 37 species of whales and dolphins that you can spot in SA. One can see especially Southern Rights even from the shore e.g. between June and November when the whales migrate to the South African shores to calve, feed, and grow their young after time spent in Antarctica.There’s a lot of interesting information on Southern Rights on the internet!
Humpback whales, Megaptera Novaenangliae in Latin, (these are one of my personal favorites) tend to migrate through the South African waters between May and December annually. According to SA places, the Humpback is the second most commonly seen whale on the coast of SA. Humpback whales are large, grey or blue-ish giants with white on their stomach. They have large side flippers (which is referred to in their Latin name, Megaptera), and looking a photo taken in the water underneath a Humpback Whale, the flippers look like wings. Humpback whales are baleen whales, like the bigger whales tend to be, and they eat tiny plankton by taking water in their mouth and then pushing the water out filtering it through the baleen leaving the small plankton in their mouth. Humpback whales are known for their beautiful singing concertos. They sing more in the warm waters and apparently this singing is typical just for the males. The reason for their singing is still unknown, yet there’s a tenuous link between their singing and their mating rituals.
More information about Humpbacks you can find for instance here.
What comes to bigger whales, in addition to Southern Rights and Humpbacks there are Bryde’s Whales which can be seen all year round.
Other species that you could spot in SA:
- Orcas (seen more rarely)
- Minke Whale
- Blue Whale (the biggest mammal that has ever inhabited the earth. Also very endangered these days.)
- Sperm Whale
- Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin
- Long-Beaked Common Dolphin