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September 16, 2010

Cruising with the whales – A Cape Town Tourism photo essay

Once a year, between June and December, visitors from around the globe are drawn to see various whale species as they pass through Cape Town waters for their annual migration. One species you’re highly likely to see is the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), and often off the coast of False Bay, Muizenberg or Simon’s Town.

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Southern right whales can weigh up to 80 tonnes and reach 60 feet in length, so to see them breach, when they propel themselves out of the water, is a sight not to be forgotten.

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These giants of the oceans can be seen from land, but for a really special encounter, try hopping onto a whale watching boat trip. Experienced crews educate and entertain, as you go in search of sights that will leave you breathless.

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Whales emerge from the ocean at a striking speed, and there’s hardly enough time to get your camera pointed at them before they plummet back into the depths once more. On a recent trip out, I saw one whale breach about seven times in a row – the secret to a good shot is guessing where they will appear next.

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If you are fortunate, you might get to see humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera brydei), as well as the Southern Right. This photo is of a humpback whale tail in sight of land. 

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Nothing gets ocean visitors as excited as seeing a whale tail rise from the ocean and glide smoothly and silently back again. Capetonians, you can thank your lucky stars that you live in a city with so many other wonders of nature on its doorstep. 

See a list of tour operators specialising in whale tours.

Do you have images of Cape Town you’d like to share with us? We’d love you to join the Cape Town. Live it. Love it. Flickr group!

Images © Ken “Darcy” Brown aka Darcy65 2010

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