TRAVEL

First whale sightings at De Hoop

Whoop De (W)Hoop!

The first whales of the season have just been sighted at De Hoop.

“Great excitement! We’ve spotted the first whales of the season”, said William Stephens of De Hoop Collection.

“The usual season for whales is between June/July and November – this is when the southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to breed and raise their calves – so it’s exciting seeing them now, especially in this rather bleak time of COVID-19”.   

De Hoop Nature Reserve and Marine Protected Area in the Overberg region is world renowned as one the best spotS for shore-based whale watching in South Africa. Situated in the heart of the magnificent reserve is De Hoop Collection – a member of Cape Country Routes – which offers a wide range of budget-wise accommodation options – from affordable self-catering chalets to upmarket catered lodges.

The marine protected area extends three nautical miles out to sea from the coastline and is a haven for breeding whales and their calves. Koppie Alleen in De Hoop, with its relatively warm and calm waters, is the most important nursery area on the South African coast for southern right whales – resulting in the impressive numbers of whale sightings at De Hoop. 

Aww gorgeous. Photo Jean Tresfon.

At the first aerial count survey of the 2019 whale season, done in August, over 90% of the total whales seen were at De Hoop; and in 2018 Jean Tresfon, a well-known marine conservation photographer, and pilot of aerial surveys done by the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, was blown away by record-breaking sightings of the southern right whales. 

“A high point was at the De Hoop Nature Reserve where, from Skipskop Point to Lekkerwater, we spotted an incredible record-breaking 1 116 whales, or 558 cow/calf pairs. Three times more than the previous year (2017),” he said.

Photo Jean Tresfon.

Of the total 2018 count of about 1 400, approximately 200 were not in the De Hoop area.

“De Hoop continues to be the best spot for whale watching in South Africa,” says Stephens.

Lead image: Supplied

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