Whale Watching near Dyer Island, South Africa

After the wine tour, dinner, and dancing, I woke up early to drive two and a half hours to a small town just outside of  Gansbaai for a whale watching tour around Dyer Island.  I drove past Stellenbosch, and kept going for 2 more hours through some beautiful coastal countryside.

After the orientation, rules and signing the waiver, we walked down to the water

whale-walk

And boarded the Dream Catcher.

whale-boat

The harbor is really tight, but we made it out and headed to meet our sister-ship full of shark divers.  We waited for about 15 minutes, but no sharks…  They had been there for 3 hours.  I can’t imagine slewing chum and being barraged by sea gulls for 3 hours.  So, we headed out with a chance to see some sharks when we come back thru.

whale-shark

A short while later, we happened upon a mother Southern Right Whale and her playful calf.  We maintained a respectful distance behind them. Mom tooled slowly along…

whale-mom

But the calf decided to put on a show…  Breaching at least 30 times.

whale-baby1

We followed them for about 30 minutes, then found another group of 2 adult whales that were a bit more shy… so we moved on to Geyser Rock and “Shark Alley” where we saw no sharks, but a ton of stinky, smelly, god-awful horrific stench of Cape Fur Seals.  All of these seals is one reason that this area has the world’s most dense population of Great White sharks.  This leads me to believe that to a Great White, a Cape Fur Seal must be like Limburger Cheese is to humans… stinky, but delicious.

whale-seals

After we’d had enough of the smell and the barking, we moved on to Dyer Island to look for African Penguins.  These penguins are endangered on Dyer Island because they used to steal the eggs as a delicacy until the 1960’s, and mine the guano (poop) for fertilizer.  They say the layer of guano used to be 15 ft thick, and the penguins burrowed into it to make nests.  As you can see, the island is not coverd in 15 ft of bird pool anymore.

whale-dyer

To remedy this, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust will allow you to sponsor a penguin “nest” for $50 (I did).  It’s basically a keg sized enclosure that the penguins are happy to use as a nesting site.

On the boat, our guides gave up trying to spot penguins, but I found a few with my camera, hanging out near their man-made nests.  In the spirit of “Where’s Waldo”, see if you can find them…

whale-penguins

On the way back we heard that the Shark Divers had 1 medium sized Great White, but they didn’t want us to come by and scare it away.  I can only imagine 20 people leaving Cape Town at 4 am, waiting 5 hours on a boat, then alternating places in a cage strapped to the side of the boat for just one shark.  I’m glad I chose the whales!

After driving back to the hostel, I discovered that they were having a Braai (BBQ).  I met up with a few friends from the wine tour.  We shared a few bottles that we had bought, and some cheese that I got.  It all went very well with the 4 kinds of meat from the grill.

whale-map

Stay tuned for driving down the Cape Peninsula…

 

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