“Seeing a whale for the first time, waving its massive tail at us, is a stunning experience. And witnessing one of
the 15m creatures hurl itself clear of the water in a breach is amazing.”
Bertil van Vugt, Tonight
It was the Southern Right Whales that put Witsand on the map, especially in the 90’s, because St. Sebastian Bay is considered the “Whale Nursery of South Africa”.
Investigating from a helicopter in October 1999, Dr Best, a whale expert, confirmed a count of 233 whales in the bay. An official helicopter count done in October 2000 revealed 34 cow-calf pairs in the Bay, and 74 off De Hoop. Another whale count done from a helicopter in 2009 resulted in a count of as many as 117 adults and 49 calves, confirming Witsand’s reputation as THE whale nursery of South Africa. Whale watching season starts in June and lasts until November each year. On a good day, a whale watcher may observe up to 70 capering whales.
In spring, calving Southern Right whales cruise up and down the coastline, close to shore. Each year these majestic mammals come to our shores between June and late November to mate and calf. Witsand enjoys the lion’s share of this visit due to the bay being the prime nursery for cow/calf pairs.
Southern Right whales are the least understood of all the world’s great whales. Weighing up to 58 tons, and with the largest and most highly evolved mammalian brains on earth; Southern Right Whales have inhabited the great southern oceans for about 60 million years.
They are now becoming the focus of intense scientific and tourist interest, and are set to play a major role in the global, multi-billion dollar whale watching industry.