IAAP Congress 2007 : Whale Watching

Whale Watching in Hermanus
Our Congress is in August, it is during our winter (a relative 'winter' compared to the sub-zero temperatures that the Northern Hemisphere knows). Because of the rain during this time, it is the prime season for our rich flora - proteas (South Africa's national flower), ericaceae and other 'fynbos' abound. In addition it is the time of the whale festival, which is an annual happening along the Cape coast line. Here is some information regarding these enormous, genteel mammals of the sea who gather in great numbers in our oceans at this time. The most popular place from where to observe them is Hermanus, a town about 90 minutes from Cape Town; it is considered the world's best land based whale watching spot. Hermanus has many good restaurants and walking trails and is worth visiting. During the Congress there will be tour agents at hand with whom you can make arrangements to take you there.


Hermanus has grown from rustic fishermen's village to being acknowledged by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as one of the 12 best Whale viewing sites in the world. From its rocky cliffs, Whales can be seen as close as 5 metres (16.4 feet). It is also the only place in the world where one can watch the Whales and, by means of an underwater microphone, hear their calls at the same time. 
The Southern Right Whales start arriving in Walker Bay from June and have usually left again by December. Peak Whale season, when sightings are virtually guaranteed on a daily basis, is during September and October. Calving season is in August and September and the Whale population peaks in Walker Bay during October.
The Southern Right Whale was so named because it was considered to be the right Whale to catch. The fact that it was rich in oil and baleen and floated when killed resulted in this slow-moving leviathan becoming one of the most hunted of all Whale species. 
Today the Northern Right Whale is virtually extinct. There are an estimated 4 000 – 6 000 Southern Right Whales at present, with a large percentage visiting the South African coast annually. The Southern Right Whale can be distinguished from other Whales by its V- shaped blow and the callosities that appear on and around its head. The callosities are outgrowths of tough skin that form distinctive patterns on each individual. 
Whales are large-brained and sensitive creatures. Strong bonds exist between females and their calves. In normal circumstances they are non-aggressive and gentle towards man.  


Marta Collins,
Conference Management Centre, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences, Anzio Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 4066407, Fax: +27 21 4486263
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IAAP Executive Committee

Link to the IAAP Officers and Executive Committee