All set for a whale of a time

Posted by Mariette on Tue May 14, 2024 in Activities.

As part of our coastal culture, Sodwana Bay Lodge is readying itself for responsible whale watching from July to November. Book your whale watching tour today.

Yes, there’s nothing quite like watching the giants of the sea ‘spyhopping’, blowing or breaching. It’s truly breath-taking and makes for once-in-a-lifetime vacation photos. Each year, our visitors peel their eyes for a puff of sea water, a dorsal fin or a diving tail. But oh, to see humpback whales clear the surface before gravity pulls them down with an almighty bang, is beyond words.

The spectacular migration

The humpback whale migration from the food-rich waters of Antarctica is a sight to behold. So why do they migrate? As winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere, the Antarctic krill population diminishes due to sunlight reduction and sea ice formation. So, off they go north to the breeding ground of their birth to mate and calve.

During this migration they survive exclusively on their blubber. With their innate navigation sense, they follow magnetic fields, ocean currents and temperature gradients. To gain an advantage for feeding and mating opportunities, juvenile humpbacks lead the journey. Meanwhile, expectant mothers follow behind and some even give birth along the way.

Our warm waters provide a more stable environment for the calves to feed, grow and learn – readying them to survive their maiden trip back to Antarctica.

Being responsible

Apart from generating income and employment in coastal communities, responsible whale watching includes an educational element. This could foster a lifelong love of marine life in its natural habitat and raise awareness of whale and dolphin conservation needs.

Whale-watching vessels also serve as valuable platforms to collect data on whale or dolphin distribution, habitat use and long-term photo-identification studies. Sodwana Bay Lodge’s Whale Watcher is the only licensed whale-watching operation in the Sodwana Bay waters. This allows us to approach whales within the protected 50-meter radius. The permit ensures regulation of the industry and minimum intrusion on the whales from boats.

We depart from the beach, 6 km from the hotel, from July to November. The tours are about two hours in duration, including the boat launch and safety induction. Minimum of 4 pax per trip.