This Dolphin species is ENDEMIC to Southern Africa and although not uncommon at certain locations has not been observed by many people. Its endemic status makes it one of our most important animals in Southern Africa.
"The Heaviside's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) is a small dolphin that is found off the coast of Namibia and the west coast of South Africa. It is one of four dolphins in the genus Cephalorhynchus — the others being the Chilean Dolphin, Hector's Dolphin, and Commerson's Dolphin.
The Heaviside's Dolphin, whose binomial name references heavisidii, is actually named after a Captain Haviside who brought a specimen from Namibia to the United Kingdom early in the 19th Century. However, its name was once mis-spelled Heaviside, after a prominent surgeon, Captain Heaviside who collected cetacean and other animal species. The latter name stuck and is the most common in the popular literature. However, some authorities, including the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals and Mammal Species of the World use the originally intended name of Haviside's Dolphin.
Although sightings of the species are not uncommon off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, Heaviside's Dolphins have not been systematically studied by scientists. They have been recorded off the coast of northern Namibia at 17° S and as far south as the southern tip of South Africa. Sightings are often recorded from major population centres such as Cape Town and towns such as Walvis Bay. Sightings are likely from Lambert's Bay either from the shore or from boat trips run from the Harbour. No estimates of abundance exist.
The Heaviside's Dolphin is a fairly small dolphin, growing up to about 180 cm in length and weighing up to 75 kg. Their size and the bluntness of their heads leads these dolphins to often be mistaken for porpoises. The head is coloured a dark grey. The front half of the upper side and the flanks are a much lighter grey. The dorsal fin, fluke and back half of the back are again a darker grey colour. The underbelly is white and there are flashes of white on the flanks below the dorsal fin.
Males reach sexual maturity at about 7–9 years. Females reach breeding age at the same time. The gestation period is probably 10 months. Mating occurs in Spring and Summer. It is believed that females calf on average once every three years. The maximum known age of a Haviside's Dolphin is 20 years. This relatively short life span, coupled with the long calving period, causes a naturally low population growth rate. Therefore the species is particularly sensitive to being hunted.
Heaviside's Dolphins are active and social animals. They typically congregate in groups of about 5–10 in number but sometimes in larger groups. They are able to swim fast. Part of their play and social activity is to jump vertically clear of the water, turn in the air, and fall back into the sea with virtually no splashing or noise."
Whether you call it Haviside's or Heaviside's Dolphin, WCNP is perhaps the best SANParks for spotting this endemic, although they can be seen off Cape Point as well. At the end of the road at Tsaarbank in the WCNP there is a great couple of view points over the ocean and some large boards give information on this species. Although I have seen this mammal off Walvis Bay (quite reliable location), I am yet to spot it from Tsaarbank.
Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec