Achieving Symbiotic Harmony
During the months of May through to November, hump back whales migrate from Antarctica on the onset of winter. The whales migrate along the east coast of south Africa through the coastal waters of Durban and through to the warmer waters of Mozambique and Madagascar to breed and give birth. Hump back whales migrate about five thousand kilometers on average, one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on earth.
Due to the numerous numbers of whales migrating along Durban’s Coast in 1907 a Norwegian whaling station was established. This whaling station became the largest land based whaling station in the world. It was later closed down in 1975 and its remains can still be viewed off the Durban bluff. At the time there were an estimated 340 hump back whales migrating along the Durban coast. Since the closure of the whaling station there are now estimated to be over 7000 hump back whales migrating.
Similarly the number of Southern Right Whales has increased to over a thousand whales off the coast of southern Africa, boasting a growth of seven percent per year. At this rate the population is expected to double in the next ten years making Durban a premium whale tour destination. Other Whales that can be seen along the Durban Coast line are Sperm, Minke and Bryde.
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When whales exhale, its blow releases a puff of spray. The blow is often the first sign that whales are present and the sound of it is often surprisingly loud.
Breaching is when a whale propels its body out of the water & upon its re-entry creates an impressive splash. Breaching is not fully understood, however, suggestions for this type of behavior include communication, mating, competition and play.
A whales tail is composed of two lobes each of which is called a fluke, hence a whales tail is called “its flukes”. When a whale dives into the water column, it raises its tail before it slips below the surface.
Lob-Taling & Flipper Slapping
Whales slap the surface of the water with their tails, as well as their flippers. It is suggested that this type of behavior is associated with mating and communication.
Sailing often looks like a “whale standing on its head” as it holds its body vertically in the water column with its tail sticking out of the water surface. Whales either untertake this activity to catch the wind and “sail” through the water, or as a method to cool down.
Spyhopping is when a whale looks like it is vertically standing in the water column with its head sticking out of the water surface. This allows a whale to get a better view of its surounding activities.