It’s official! Winter has arrived here in De Hoop. The June solstice (21st June) has come and gone, and now we can settle into the gentle rhythm of our mild, cooler months. The word “winter” might send chills down your spine, but here at Morukuru Ocean House and Morukuru Beach Lodge, June to August is a special time of the year.
Whale Watching Season is back! The skies are bright, and the landscape bursts into colour as the endemic fynbos springs to life, following the start of the winter rains. It’s also when we see the return of the ocean’s gentle giants to the waters of the Southern Cape.
There isn’t an official date for the start of the whale season along the Southern Cape coast. Ranger and Guide Riehan Groenewald says that you can catch ad hoc sighting of whales anytime between June and November. “As a local, I can tell you that July to October usually offers excellent whale watching opportunities.”
Morukuru Family De Hoop is perfectly situated, giving guests extraordinary land-based whale watching, and our expert rangers will introduce you to daily displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics. Riehan adds, “Listen for the noise of blowing. This is the sound the whale makes when expelling air through its blowhole, together with a spout of condensed water vapour. When you see a whale leaping out of the water and falling back in with a huge splash, we call this “breaching”. This is how whales communicate, exercise and remove parasite build up on their skins.
June signals the start of the mating season when the whales are quite active in the water. There is usually quite a lot of commotion as the whales breach, blow and lobtail. Whales also communicate with each other using lyrical sounds, which are extremely loud depending on the species and can be heard for many miles. Sometimes a whale wants to see what is happening above the water; it will lift its head and body vertically, as far as the flippers, above the surface. This is called Spy Hopping!
The Southern Right Whale is arguably one of the most widely recognised species, but 37 different species of whales and dolphins have been recorded along the Southern Cape coast. Riehan tells us, “Guests can also look out for other types of whales like Humpbacks, Bryde's and even the occasional Killer Whale (Orcas). Whale season also gives you a chance to catch sight of diverse marine life like the African penguin; dolphins; porpoises; Cape Fur Seals and the Black Oystercatcher.”
The calving season is in August and September. Southern Right whales have a gestation period of 12 - 13 months and prefer calm bays to give birth. You can often spot a “midwife” helping during the birth and bringing the new calf to the surface for its first breath. Calves are born tail first and can swim 30 minutes after birth.
Whales and whale watching are part of our DNA! So much so that we chose to integrate cetacean (that means pertaining to whale, dolphin and porpoise - we didn’t even know that!) elements into our decor and design. Look out for our whale chandeliers and the dramatic outdoor whale sculpture commissioned for Morukuru Beach Lodge. GM Trevor van Laun adds: “Our guests are intrigued by the outdoor model created from Iroko, which is a rare hardwood able to endure the coastal conditions. The indoor plywood chandeliers are handcrafted and are truly works of art. In the evening, you can enjoy these lighting installations and plan your next day of whale watching adventures”.