Cape Town  -  Southern Right Whales Hermanus

Southern Right Whales
visit Hermanus

Walker Bay near Hermanus where the whales spend their time mating and giving birth

It's June again and in SA its time for the whales to arrive. The Southern Right Whales are on course for South Africa and a number of them have already arrived in Walker Bay in Hermanus. On their arrival the local whale crier will be there to welcome his charges to the bay. Wilson Salukazana is the second whale crier to work as a whale crier in Hermanus.

At present he is busy cleaning up his whale crier's horn which is made from dried kelp that is washed up on our beaches. Wilson has selected a really long piece of kelp that is about an inch thick at the narrow end and about six inches at the wide end. The horn is twisted and about five or six feet long.

Southern Right Whale

When the kelp is picked up on the beaches it is still wet but after a month or two in the sun dries out and then all one has to do is cut off the ends and you are in business. The narrow end is shaped into a mouth piece and the wider end is cut open and in Wilson's case is shaped into the shape of a whales mouth. One can blow on it and you get the sound of a horn. A skilled bugler could most probably get a tune out of it.

This is Wilson's tool of trade. During the whale season his job is to walk along the coastline and spot the whales. When he has found them he blows his horn, using various codes and sounds that are understood by the locals who are then able to direct the tourists and visitors to where the whales are.

Pathways along the beachfront at Hermanus

The business district of town is built along the edge of a cliff and from the top of the cliffs one gets a fantastic view down onto the whales which come in close to the shore. Along the top of the cliffs a walk way has been built so it is easy to get to where the whales are on foot. For those who want a little more adventure when they go whale watching there are a number of boat tours on offer. I in fact think that one gets a better view from the cliffs as boats are restricted as to how close they may go to the whales.

The whales however put on a good show for visitors, diving, breaching, swimming on their sides and sticking their heads out of the water to see what is going on around them. All these antics have special names and you can find out what they are when you visit Hermanus.

All along the edge of the bay are sign posts describing what type of whales may be seen and what the whales are getting up to. When the whales arrive, Hermanus celebrates. A whale festival is arranged with special entertainment laid on for visitors.

The biggest problem at this festival is to find place for all the visitors to Hermanus. Roads are full and parking is a problem. However, once you have found somewhere to park most places are within walking distance so a good time is had by all.

Lets see you at the whale festival this year.

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Whales in Hermanus