Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale viewing sites in the wold and the best land based
whale watching in the world.
Book a Whale Watching Trip
From June to the end of November there are Southern Right whales in the bay and a walk
along the cliff path will be all you need to understand why we have registered that claim.
The best time to view whales and when you are almost guaranteed spectacular displays is
from August to end October.
The whales calve in August and September and the population peaks in October. Why the
Southern Right? These whales are known by this name because once killed they float and
are rich in oil and baleen (the food filter plates that hang from the roof of their mouths) So
the Southern Right became the right whale to hunt and kill. In 1935 they became protected
and their numbers are increasing annually at round 7%. Whales are graceful, intelligent
creatures and develop strong bonds with their calves. They are also tricksters and for their
enormous size, get up to all kinds of energetic play.
Breaching – This is when the whales jump; they can lift three quarter or more of their body
out of the water. Normally breaching is done 3 or 5 times in succession. We don’t know why
whales do this, but they seem to be having a lot of fun. Some experts claim that they are
sloughing lice from their skin- perhaps it is part of their mating ritual, or simply high spirit
Lobtailing- This could be for communication with other whales or to regulate their body
temperature ( as seals do when they lie on their sides and sail on one fin ) but either way
the sound of the whales tail slapping down on the water is truly impressive. This is when
whales stick their tales out of the water and ‘’ sail ‘’ across the sea. It is almost certainly a
way of regulating body temperature.
Spy hopping – This is when the whales bob their heads and part of their bodies up out of the
water. Southern Rights are “sights and sounds” whales not possessing sonar. So this is
almost certainly navigational or simple curiosity.
Blowing- This is when the whale exhale air out of their blowholes along with water vapour.
The shape of the spout of water enables us to identify what species of whale it is. Southern
Rights have a distinctive V-Shaped blow as the have two blowholes.
Playing with kelp- Whales seems to enjoy playing with kelp and rubbing it over their backs
and heads, possible removing old skin and lice.
Grunting – This sound can be heard a couple of kilometres away and is often heard at night.
Sundowner cruises and boat based whale watching can be arranged for you.
Only licensed operators are allowed to take visitors on boast based whale watching trips.
They are allowed within 50 metres of the mammals and have to adhere to strict rules and
participate in research on the whales.
From June to the end of November there is a whale sanctuary in Walker Bay and unlicensed
boasts are not permitted in the sanctuary and outside of the sanctuary, nobody is allowed
within 300 metres of the whales.
The whales don’t know about this law and are often well
within 300 metres of the cliff path!
Do not go down to the end of the rocky outcrops. The sea, however benign it looks, is very
dangerous and unpredictable.
The Whale Crier can be found in the town centre with his kelp horn.