Witsand is officially known as “THE” Whale Nursery of South Africa. This name indicates that we have the largest concentration of Southern Right Whale calves born in our Nursery every year on the SA coastline. Stats from 1998 available on request. The largest amount was during the 2006 season when 69 calves were born and a total of 165 whales & calves were counted.
San Sebastian Bay offers sheltered conditions for this important annual activity. No boat based whale watching licence has been issued to any skipper, so all our viewing is from different land based lookout points.
Process to watch for:
1. If you see seagulls circling over the sea, don’t move or look
away. They know what is about to happen.
2. The Mommy whale comes in close to just beyond the breakers,
when she knows it is time to calve. She is accompanied by
another adult whale, which is often a “male midwife.”
3. As she starts the birth process, you can see the water being
twirled around fiercely by her tail. There is also evidence of
blood in the water.
4. As the calf is born, normally whitish, the midwife pushes the 5-6
meter calf to the surface for its first breath of air. (Probably to
have the same effect as humans when they get a smack on
5. The midwife then guides the calf onto the Mom’s teat, for its first
meal of approx. 200 litres of Moms healthy milk.
6. Once the calf is satisfied, and detaches from the teat, the
midwife guides the calf a short distance away from the Mom.
7. Mom then goes through the final stage of giving birth by
passing the afterbirth.
8. Once this birth process is over, the seagulls start diving for the
feast. What a sight!
9. Mom and calf are then reunited, and the midwife moves on to
the next Mom that needs assistance.
10. Mom and calf will stay swimming just beyond the breakers for
the first 2 weeks, and then move into deeper water as the calf
Mom and calf will hang around in the Nursery, until about the last week of Nov or first week in Dec. Once the calf is strong enough to tackle the journey south, to the 40th parallel, and feeding grounds, they will depart. The main whale diet is krill and small crustaceans (planktons) which are not found in our waters. Mom sustains herself and her calf, for the duration of her stay, and feeds her calf 400-500 liters of milk per day.
Compliments of Lorraine Martin of Barry’s Accommodation:
Although it is primarily known for its multitude of whales from June to November, there is much to keep one entertained during the summer months. With stunning beaches, some of the best estuary fishing in the country, the Langeberg Mountains providing a beautiful backdrop and an unhurried peaceful ambiance, Witsand is well worth a visit. firstname.lastname@example.org +27 (0)28 537 1717