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Whales

Find, identify & discuss the marine species of SANParks
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Guinea Pig
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Whales

Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:43 pm

At last a thread for one of my fav creatures! 8)

Let me start off with a question I've always wanted to ask.
@DB, lam, j-ms and kie - what is the best time od year and the best SANpark to see them?

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lam
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Unread postby lam » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:35 pm

Whales from our window

We have seen 4 types of whales from our house. Well one we only saw the spray of.

The most common is Humpbacked whales.
The second most common is Bryde or Minke whales (impossible to tell which one or if it is both)
We have on occasion seen Southern Right whales.
We saw an unusual spray once in February and it was identified in the paper the next day as a killer whale.

Bryde/Minke whales stay quite far out and we see them around sardine run time.

Humpbacks come in a bit closer. We see them in June/July and then September to December. In June they are heading up the coast to breed off Mozambique. They usually move quite quickly. September to December they come down the coast again with their young. They move far slower and are far more likely to hang about and show themselves.

Southern Rights come very close to the shore. They are therefore the best whales to see. The don't usually get as far as PE, although they are known to calve in Algoa Bay. I am not sure the exact months we have seen them, but it was probably around August.

Killer whales - we will probably never see even the spray of another one.

From Tsitsikamma National Park you have good chance of seeing humpbacks (September to November), but the southern cape, Hermanus and the surrounding area is the place to go to see Southern Rights. De Hoop is probably a good place to go, but it isn't SANP.
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Unread postby arks » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:40 pm

lam wrote:From Tsitsikamma National Park you have good chance of seeing humpbacks (September to November), but the southern cape, Hermanus and the surrounding area is the place to go to see Southern Rights. De Hoop is probably a good place to go, but it isn't SANP.


What about Cape Point? I think I've read about whale sightings from there?

Best way to see whales, though, is from a whale watch cruise (do they do those from Hermanus?) or better yet, really close up from your own sailboat :D 8)
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Unread postby arks » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:49 pm

Freda wrote:I did a great one from Boston, arks, awesome, but I don't think it was Sanparks :wink:


Yip, we have lots of whales in the North Atlantic and you can get VERY lucky on a whale watch out of Boston. Glad to hear that you had a good one here.

Perhaps SANParks will develop a whale watch cruise sideline? These cruises are VERY popular all along the New England coast and the operators are tighly controlled so that the whales are not overly stressed by too many boats coming too close.
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Unread postby gwendolen » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:50 pm

The best place to see whales in SA is in Hermanus. I saw them there in August. Terrific experience. But it's not SANParks related. :?

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Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:53 pm

gwendolen wrote:The best place to see whales in SA is in Hermanus. I saw them there in August. Terrific experience. But it's not SANParks related. :?


Same here on the KZN South Coast. :lol: I'm actually curious about Addo as this Park is high on my list of to do's. Apparently they are seen from there?

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Unread postby Jay » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:01 pm

If you drive along the road from Cape Town to Cape Point in October/November you will see whales, apparently awesome this year, and that is Table Mountain National Park, well the undisturbed areas anyway :wink:

We lived in Simonstown when I was a child, we would sit on the stoep and watch the whales do "belly flops" :D

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Unread postby Freda » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:08 pm

Is December too late to see them? I'm in Addo 27th and 28th and Simonstown from the 29th till the 2nd Jan.

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Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:08 pm

A bit of nothingness on whales:

Whales were probably once land mammals and their bodily functions have close resemblances to that of land mammals. They have to hold their breath under water, some whales manage this for an astounding 45 minutes. :shock: The spray so associated with whales forms when the air that's been contained for such a long time under pressure heats up and on being forcibly expelled through the blowhole into colder air condensates into a column of vapour 12 to 15 ft high.

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Unread postby Jay » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:14 pm

@ Freda: the whales have been hanging around longer than usual the last 2 years, so you will most likely see them.

@GP; you should hear the noise when they blow the water out and when they "talk"! I sit in my study and get such a fright each time it happens; they are then sitting about 200m from my house :D

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Unread postby leopardspotter » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:42 pm

There is also a very nice veiw-point at the West Coast National Park, were you can see them!!

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Unread postby Guinea Pig » Wed Dec 07, 2005 9:45 pm

leopardspotter wrote:There is also a very nice veiw-point at the West Coast National Park, were you can see them!!


Where? Where? :pray:

In all the years we've going to St Helena and Stompneus we've never seen whales. Ok, must be in the open ocean - so neither of those or Langebaan are suitable.

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Unread postby lam » Thu Dec 08, 2005 8:23 am

Guinea Pig wrote:I'm actually curious about Addo as this Park is high on my list of to do's. Apparently they are seen from there?


The whales you see from Addo will most likely be humpbacks. October-November would be the most likely time. The problem with humpbacks is they mostly breed off Mozambique. When they are outside our house, they are on the move. We see whales every few days, but usually only for a 10-20 minute period and fairly far out. Binoculars are needed. I don't mind this, but for someone looking for a close-up, dramatic sighting, that you might get at Hermanus, it could be a bit disappointing.

Perhaps they hang around Bird Island longer than they do outside our house?

Does anyone know about any boat tours off Port Elizabeth or Sundays River?

My best whale sighting ever was in Mozambique, watching a mother teach a baby how to slap its tail. Whale babies are just as uncoordinated as human babies.
Kruger - July

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Unread postby Salva » Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:46 pm

We did a boat trip from Plettenberg on 22/11. We saw 1 humpback passing by. Awesome experience. The guide - biologist told they were at that time allready passing for about 2 weeks and they would continue to do so for another two weeks.

That evening I saw a humpback in the bay from my room. I first thought it was a southern right because he was so close to the shore but when I saw his back with my binocs I could clearly see it was a humpback.

We also saw southern right twice. Once at De Hoop, about an hour after the guard at the gate told us they were probably gone. It was a mother with a calf and the calf was jumping all the time.

From the Kelders (imho much better and a million times less busy than Hermanus) I could see one southern right.

I don't think there are any southern rights left in South African waters by now.

The sad thing is that the Japanese this year sent out a fleet of 44 vessels to hunt for whales and they wait for them, it seems, just out South African waters since they're not protected over there any more. This is an enormous fleet and I wonder how much of these magnificent creatures the japs are going to slaughter this time. :evil:

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Unread postby lam » Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:01 am

Salva wrote:The sad thing is that the Japanese this year sent out a fleet of 44 vessels to hunt for whales and they wait for them, it seems, just out South African waters since they're not protected over there any more. This is an enormous fleet and I wonder how much of these magnificent creatures the japs are going to slaughter this time. :evil:


It is so sad :( :( :( :( :(

We have the problem of perlemoen (abalone) poaching that occurs right outside our house and in the marine reserve 2 kms away. This is also for the eastern market. :!: The police try hard, but there are so many people invloved, they just don't cope.
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