Whales, Sharks & Dolphins along the South African coastline
Seeing as so many of us in the South African Tourism industry will be flocking to the city of Durban on the KwaZulu Natal coast, we will now leave the inland attractions for a while and move to the coastal regions instead. This time of the year the Southern Right Whales start making their way to our shores again, Shark Cage diving is at its best and with some really nice weather days still around, an oceansafari would be unforgettable. South Africa is blessed with about 2 800 kilometres of coastline, stretching from the arid Kalahari in the north-west all the way to the lush St Lucia estuary in the east. The South African coastline is rugged, its rocky shores exposed to high wave energy and has very few truly sheltered bays. Eighty per cent of the 3000 km coastline consists of sandy beaches usually backed by low sand dunes. The rocky shores support a rich flora and fauna and in many areas provide a rich food resource for subsistence dwellers along the coast. There are 343 estuaries or river mouths along the coast between the Orange River at the Namibian border on the west coast and Ponta do Ouro at the Mozambiquen border on the east coast. The Southern Right Whale is a migratory whale, which means that they spend one season in one place and the rest of the year in another, and travel long distances between these seasons. In summer (December through May), they are in the cold polar regions of the Southern Hemisphere where food (mainly krill) is present and in quantity. Winters (June through November) are spent around the shallow coastal waters of Southern Africa, South America and Australia. The Southern Right Whale got its name during the time when they were hunted. They were referred to as the “right” whales to kill because they would float when dead (which made it easy for the whalers to find them in the ocean and transport them back to the whaling station. These whales have a large amount of oil (also called blubber) and baleen. Our coast (Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay) is exactly what they need during mating season. The shallow, sandy-bottomed and sheltered bays are perfect for mating, calving, nursing their young and resting. After the mating and calving season ends (November / December), the Southern Right Whales move South.
Road Travel have some amazing “Winter Specials” on offer in places where whale watching is perfect, such as Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay. Contact us to find out more.
Sharks are magnificent creatures that never fail to capture the avid attention of mankind. Yet, it is apparent that many people have complete misconceptions of sharks. Most people have a 90% fear level and 10% respect level. Yet, why not try changing those misconceptions and learning the truth about sharks in the best possible way: South African shark cage diving. Shark cage diving in South Africa has grown greatly in popularity and there are now a number of commercialized locations to view these incredible monsters of the deep. Your adrenaline is sure to pump as you come almost face to face with the sea’s most awesome predators. Shark cage diving is absolutely safe and you need not have any diving experience at all. Just before you start, you’ll receive a short course on general safety and the use of the equipment and you’re good to go. The South African winter, which is from May to October, is the best time to experience a South African shark cage dive. These months are considered to be the high season, but Sharks are generally seen throughout the year. There are two main places in South Africa that promise fantastic shark cage diving experiences namely at Gansbaai and Mossel Bay.
Contact Road Travel to find the most responsible and experienced shark cage diving operator.
Bottlenose dolphins are very common along our coastline from the Cape to KwaZulu Natal, and play in the shallows just behind the breakers. They are regularly seen all along the coast, particularly in KwaZulu Natal South Coast during the Sardine run when hundreds may be seen off beaches. Common dolphins are seen off the whole South African coast, but usually quite far offshore. Dolphins are naturally playful and have a tendency to arrive seemingly unannounced right next to your boat and then play in the wake created as your bow parts the sea. Viewed from both land and on the sea in a boat, dolphins certainly bring a lot of joy to both young and old alike. An ideal outing for the whole family, a day spent in or on the water watching these graceful creatures is certainly one of the things happy memories are made of. The dolphin is a small whale-like animal and it has all the grace of its larger ocean colleagues but this grace is matched with superb agility and a playfulness which touches all.