Hasta la Vista... and thanks for yet another Whale of a Show!

Posted under Marine Life Blog by Grootbos on 10th January 2012

Suddenly and sadly, with apologies to the Herman's Hermits . . . ? There's a kind of hush . . . ? all over the bay, today . . . ? and no one can hear the sound of our giant lovers in love any more . . . ?

The end of the Christmas festivities and the New Year celebrations in and around Gansbaai annually coincide with the departure of our (literally) greatest fans and performers - the pods of Southern Right Whales that annually flock all the way from Antarctica to our beautiful coastline for their own celebrations. Between July and December, the entire Walker Bay and surrounding areas become a hub of amorous activity when these gentle giants partake in a jubilant love game of flirting, dating, mating and rearing their young along the protected bays of our shoreline. Of the some 350 Southern Right Whales that annually visit the South African waters, up to 160 make Walker Bay their summer holiday destination. This year was no different. The first visitor of the season, aptly dubbed Primera, and her calf already rocked up in April to give a preliminary performance behind the breakers at Die Plaat in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve. The rest of the whale entourage followed a few weeks later. Thousands of locals, visitors and tourists were once again enthralled by the antics of these elegant mammals that so effortlessly traverse the ocean despite their mammoth size, tipping the scales at a whopping 40 to 60 tonnes. At De Kelders, their unmistakable serenading in the form of blowing and grunting could often be heard throughout the night and some experts believe those spectacular displays of lob-tailing, breaching and tail-slapping are part of their romantic repertoire.

Also known as the Big 2 Town after the great many Southern Right Whales and Great White Sharks that abound in the area, Gansbaai is one of the best destinations in the world for shark cage diving and whale viewing from land, boat or sky. Grootbos guests once again had a whale of a time meeting these amazing marine animals at close proximity in their natural habitat. Few things beat the exhilaration of watching a gigantic whale curiously swimming right up to a boat as if to introduce itself to the bipedal creatures aboard . . . and then playfully crossing underneath it! A champagne picnic on the beach, watching pods of whales frolic in the surf as a blood red sun dips into the ocean, is a magic moment and a sight to behold forever. Although we are sad to see them leave for colder, greener pastures, we grant them their well-earned resting and rejuvenating period and already look forward to welcoming them back in a few months' time!

Hasta la Vista, babes - see you again soon!

A few sleepyheads may still be cruising around the Walker Bay and Franskraal area, postponing their strenuous return journey to Antarctica. Humpback whales and dolphins can occasionally be seen throughout the year.

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