PICS | Whale of a time! 'Supergroup' of 116 humpback whales spotted along Cape's False Bay

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A supergroup of 116 whales was recently spotted in the False Bay area.
A supergroup of 116 whales was recently spotted in the False Bay area.
Dave Hurwitz
  • A "supergroup" of more than 100 humpback whales was spotted along Cape Point and the False Bay coast recently.
  • The supergroup was out feeding after several months of not eating.
  • Jean Tresfon, an environmental photographer, had been flying his gyrocopter around the peninsula when he spotted the whales.

A "supergroup" of more than 100 humpback whales was spotted along the Cape coast recently.

The cold nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela current and its upwelling system triggered by strong offshore winds create the ideal conditions to produce krill – the whale's main food.

Jean Tresfon, a renowned environmental photographer, had been flying his gyrocopter around the peninsula last weekend when he spotted the group of whales.

sea water
Whales have been spotted.
water
A whale splashing.
water
More than 100 humpback whales spotted along the Cape's False Bay coast.

"I've been flying for 12 years. This was one of the biggest groups I've seen. The sound of them surfacing with a loud blow, the smell of their disgusting breath wafts over you in a fine glassy mist," giggled Tresfon.

READ | 'Supergroup' whale pods along SA's shoreline sign of population growth - marine researcher

Dave Hurwitz of the Simon's Town Boat Company told News24 humpback whales traditionally feed in the Antarctic regions during the summer months and migrate incredible distances northwards during winter.

"They do this to give birth to their young, mate or just to get away from the frozen conditions during the Antarctic winter. The 116 whales that were recently spotted by him (Tresfon) suspended their migration to feed on local krill. It must be noted that it's not whale season in the Western Cape, and this was a bonus for them," Hurwitz said.

water
More than 100 humpback whales were recently spotted in the False Bay area, with more expected to appear as temperatures rise.
water
Whale of a time! More than 100 humpback whales spotted along the Cape's False Bay coast.
water
One of the whales spotted in the False Bay area.

"Over the past 23 years of operating as a marine tour guide, I've never had supergroups in the Cape Point-False Bay area before. Traditionally, my whale-watching season is between June and November. On Saturday, the sea was calm and the water was crystal clear, which made the experience just incredible. What I experienced blew my mind," he added.

Hurwitz said on the annual southward migration back to their traditional feeding grounds, the humpback whales hadn't eaten for about seven months. "It was a bonanza for them too," he added.

WATCH | Whale of a time! Knysna fisherman gets up 'close and personal' with orcas in 4m rubber duck boat

According to Hurwitz, the number of whales are increasing annually and they're staying for longer. Perhaps in future they won't even move south, he added.

sea
Up close and personal with some of the whales spotted.
sea side
Dave Hurwitz of the Simon's Town Boat Company told News24 humpback whales traditionally feed in the Antarctic regions during the summer months and migrate incredible distances northwards during winter.
humpback whales
"Over the past 23 years of operating as a sea tour guide, I've never before had supergroups in the Cape Point/False Bay area. Traditionally my whale watching season is between June & November, the sea was calm, and the water was crystal clear. What I experienced my mind," said Hurwitz.

Simon Elwen, director of Sea Search and a research associate at Stellenbosch University, said it was unusual that humpback whales were migrating at this latitude from their Southern Ocean (Antarctic Ocean) feeding grounds to tropical breeding grounds.

"The Benguela is rich in nutrients, and there are lots of foods available for them," said Elwen.

In addition to capturing the spectacle, the boat company took ID photos of as many whales as possible for scientific research.

"We do this by photographing the underside of the tail as each humpback has a unique colouration of white and black, outline and scars. These are submitted to a research organisation called Happy Whale, which uses artificial intelligence, computer algorithms and the human eye to create a catalogue of individual whales from around the world and match re-sightings. We've had four matches of whales that were seen both in South Africa and Brazil, two photographed in False Bay," said Hurwitz.


Never miss a story. Choose from our range of newsletters to get the news you want delivered straight to your inbox.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No ways, I'm done
42% - 3963 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
21% - 2020 votes
Only certain circumstances
37% - 3556 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.86
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
19.46
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.78
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.98
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.1%
Gold
1,825.45
+0.2%
Silver
21.15
-0.1%
Palladium
1,890.50
+0.9%
Platinum
910.00
-0.2%
Brent Crude
115.09
+1.7%
Top 40
61,525
0.0%
All Share
67,827
0.0%
Resource 10
65,488
0.0%
Industrial 25
80,203
0.0%
Financial 15
15,428
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE