Cape Town Whale Tour: 9 Facts About Southern Right Whales

The whales that you’ll see on the Cape Town Whale Tour are like the guardians of the oceans. It’s incredible how many creatures rely on them. In this article we’ll be exploring 9 fantastic facts about Southern Right Whales that will blow you away.

1. They are playful

At first glance, the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) is very unappealing; they are often covered in scars, due to their unexpanded skin, which is thick and wrinkled. But once you’ve engaged with one of these playful creatures, you can’t help but fall in love with them. These marvellous mammals don’t only appear to be curious and intelligent — they are too.

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2. One of the largest whales

Southern right whales have big heads and rounded foreheads and there is no dorsal fin on the backs of these beings. Additionally, their coloring makes them easier to spot in a crowd: they are gray or even blackish, although some are bluish or brown. They also have patches of white or light-coloured spots that tend to be particularly visible on mothers and their calves. These animals can weigh up to 40 tons.

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3. Calluses

Calluses are the most unique and valuable feature of an individual that can be used to identify each southern right whale throughout its life – like a fingerprint. They are formed when skin grows, big chunks of which fall off leaving a scar. The calluses on their heads are bigger than those found on other parts of the body.

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4. Southern Right Whales on a Cape Town Whale Tour are quite slow

Right whales are slow, calm and communicate with splashes of their fins. These are the particular features that help scientists identify them, thus avoiding potential collisions with ships. Southern right whales usually swim about five to eight kilometres per hour when they migrate from cold to warmer seas.

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5. They live very long lives

Southern right whales live very long lives. In fact, they’re the longest living mammal. They can live to be over 100 years old!

6. Southern Right Whale mouths

Instead of  teeth, these whales make use of baleen plates “filters” to catch their food. These filters can hang from the top of these whales’ mouths. They use them by opening and closing their mouths when swimming, trapping krill and small fish.

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7. Where a third of Southern Right Whales mate

The Valdes Peninsula is a rugged, windswept landmass jutting out into the South Atlantic Ocean. It is home to about one-third of all southern right whales in the world. The whales make an annual migration from their winter feeding grounds off Brazil to spend summer in these protected bays along the peninsula’s 45 miles of shoreline.

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8. These whales can be seen in these areas around the world

Argentina (Valdés Peninsula), Australia, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Tristán de Acuña and in New Zealand.

9. These whales are surprisingly recovering

Despite the predictions of extinction a few decades ago, recent surveys suggest that the Southern Right whale is recovering from centuries of commercial hunting that nearly drove them to extinction. The population has grown from a low of around 300 individuals around 1930 to an estimated 13,000 individuals today. The numbers are uncertain because of difficulties in surveying the ocean but this is definitely positive news after such a high record of mortality more than 50 years ago.

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Despite being one of the most commonly seen whales in the world (due to their size and tendence to follow ships), there are still many things we don’t know about them. Specially, we don’t know how big their population is, their feeding behaviour and much more.

So if you want to know  more about these whales, why not book a Cape Town Whale Tour with us by following the link: