Monthly pic November 2011

A southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) breaching. Canon 50D, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM, 1/500, f/8, iso 200, handheld.
We planned our recent trip to South Africa deliberately in a season (september - october) when migratory whales visit the coast in huge numbers. Mating, calving, and nursing young... the shallow sheltered bays on the South African coastline provide plenty opportunities for just such whale related activities. We didn't get disappointed, since we watched whales all along the coast from Cape Point down South to St. Lucia all the way up North. This photo was taken at Hermanus, which is a well known hotspot for witnessing southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) breaching, sailing (as depicted), lobtailing, logging, spouting and spyhopping. If you want to enjoy this spectacle as well, but want to avoid the crowds or the famous whale crier :) I recommend De Kelders. The coastline there is dotted with villa's from suburbia, but you can enjoy watching multiple female whales with calves up to 10 meters from the shore. Very special to enjoy a sunset that way with the sound of the waves, breathing whales and only the occasional local passing by walking his/her dog.

Some guides also recommend De Hoop Nature Reserve for watching whales from the high vantage points its dunes provide. We did see whales there as well, but far away. Also, depending on the amount of wind there, your face, hands and camera equipment really can get sand blasted. All along the South African coast we saw pods of dolphin species consisting of between 20 and 100 individuals. Further north we also watched humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), but unfortunately they where further off. In conclusion: when travelling to South Africa, don't forget to take a peek into their coastal waters from time to time!

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