The Whales Are Back in Witsand – Also known as the Whale Nursery of South Africa, with the largest concentration of Southern Right whales who return here annually between July and November to mate and calve, Witsand is the most popular destination in Hessequa when it comes to viewing these giants of the ocean. In 2013 there were 82 calves born, and a total of 185 whales counted by means of an aerial survey in San Sebastian Bay. No licenses are given for boat based whale watching in order to preserve the ecosystem, and various lookout points are situated on the shore. They can also easily be spotted from the shore in the coastal towns of Jongensfontein, Stilbaai and Gouritsmond.
The Southern Right Whale, which you are most like to see, can grow up to 18 metres and the adults weighs on average 41 oookg. It’s stocky body is black, with the occasional white markings along the back and underside. It has neither dorsal fin nor any ridge along the back. They normally produce one young after a gestation period of 12 months; it measures five to six metres at birth and they are born tail first. It was judged as the ‘right’ whale to catch because it is rich in oil and floats when killed. Today however, it’s simply the ‘right’ whale to see as they come so close to shore, and they’ve been listed as international protected species since 1935. The whale can easily be recognised by its V-shaped ‘blow’ and the callosities on or around its huge head which are outgrowths of tough skin and form different patterns on each individual whale.