Wednesday, 01 August 2007

Hermanus: Whale Festival, Southern Right Whales

This is a “crash course”, all about the Southern Right Whale.
The Hermanus Whale Festival is usually in September, but I am going through this weekend to miss the rush. The whales have been around since June and all accounts are that sightings are good.
I went rambling and found "stuff" on these mammals.
“Southern” as it is found in the Southern hemisphere.
Called a Right whale as the whalers thought this was the “right” whale to catch. These whales float when they are killed, move slowly, swim in sight of the shore and are docile enough to approach. These whales are on the endangered list and are protected.
Estimated that there are 7,000 of these whales left, and numbers are increasing at about 7% per year.
This whale can weigh up to 100 tons, and grows to about 70 ft. No dorsal fin. The testicles weigh an enormous 550 kg,s or 1,100 lbs. That’s an animal with lotsa balls. Get to be about 70 years old. Leading causes of death are listed as contact with ships, entanglement with fishing nets, Orcas and Man.
The whales are covered with growths called callosities, ie thickened skin as a result of repeated contact or friction. The growths are grey, but look white due to lice surrounding the growths. This gives each whale an individual "Fingerprint".
The whales migrate up to here from the Antartic to mate and give birth, from June to October each year.
Now for the other part. Whale watching terminology. Lobtailing, Spyhopping, Breaching and sailing.

Hermanus is known as the Whale Watching Capital, and am looking forward to the trip.


Trish said...

How seriously cool!!!! :)

Jane said...

We booked to visit 20-22 sept not knowing about the festival.Could be a very intresting 3 days.