The Southern Right Experience
The Southern Right Whales(Eubalaena Australis) are common visitors in our Bay during our winter months from June to December with their numbers peaking in August and September. They make their way to our sheltered waters from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to give birth, raise their young and breed.
“Unrefined, gigantic and seemingly clumsy and yet so agile, sensitive and curious”
The Southern Right Whale is the most renown of all the whales in South Africa. When whaling was legal, these whales were thought of as the “right” whales to hunt; they move slowly, float to the surface when killed and have a high yield of oil as well as a very mellifluous baleen. These whales were hunted ruthlessly and today a mere 10% of the original populations of these magnificent creatures have survived.
“An animal 8 – 10 times the size of a male elephant and so ugly yet at the same time so breathtakingly beautiful”
The Southern Right Whales are very large baleen whales; fat and stocky and approximately 15m in length. These glorious creatures can grow larger and individuals measuring up to 17.7m have been documented. They have visible callosities (skin thickenings) above their eyes and on their upper and lower jaws. Another identifying feature is their absence of a dorsal fin. These whales filter their food (copepods) through the huge baleen plates which hang from the roof of their mouths.
“These majestic creatures are friendly and playful and have a predisposition to show off”.
“A 16 meter giant weighing some 50 to 60 tons so aware of its great body that it is able to pass under or next to a boat, mere inches away, without bumping it.”
The Southern Right Whales calves are born around August with each calf feeding on approximately 600 liters of milk per day. This milk is used to increase their blabber reserves which will then sustain them on their lengthy journey back to their rich feeding ground in the Antarctic. Each Southern Right Whale female produces only one calf every breeding cycle (every three years). The female whales without calves will spend their time in our waters mating and they can be seen performing their customary courtship rituals.
“A mother and her calf more often than not, touching and playing together, rolling over and under each other, the calf with its tail or flipper draped across her back.”
“Her beautiful calls to her calf when it strays too far in their game of ‘catch me if you can’.”
“The huffing and puffing, rolling and twisting of a group of males, all with nothing but proliferation on their minds, and one lone cow the center of their attention.”
The numbers of Southern Right Whales are on the increase since the curbing of commercial whaling and each year more whales make their way to our waters. Even though they move slowly, they give fantastic displays of lob tailing, spy hooping and breaching. Watching them frolicking and socializing is an unforgettable experience.
“These gentle giants leave you deeply aware of how inconsequential we are in the bigger picture.”