11 November 2012 – Watching Whales

094 S7 Hartjie

#94 S7 HARTJIE (GC188HR)
De Kelders near Gansbaai, South Africa

S34°33.102 E19°22.153

It was a lazy, Sunday afternoon, so we decided to go grab a couple of quick caches in De Kelders, near Gansbaai.

Arriving at the first cache located near a heart-shaped tidal pool, we were fortunate to spot at least eight southern right whales leisuring around in the waves.  True to their usual showmanship, they did not disappoint and we were treated to an exhibition of breaching, tailing and all their other usual antics.

Visit S7 Hartjie at www.geocaching.com

095 S8 De Kelders

#95 S8 DE KELDERS (GC188J1)
De Kelders near Gansbaai, South Africa

S34°33.273 E19°21.870

This cache, also located along the coastal path, allowed for some more views of the many southern rights.

A popular explanation for the name right whale is that they were the right whales to hunt.  Being slow swimmers, often found close to shore and easily recognizable by way of their distinctive, wide V-shaped blow, caused by the widely spaced blow holes on the top of its head, these leviathans had enormous value for their plentiful oil and baleen.  Because of their thick blubber, right whales also float accommodatingly after they have been killed.

During the whaling heydays of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, populations of these whales were hunted almost to the point of extinction.  All species of right whales are endangered and, since 1949 have enjoyed complete international protection.  Populations however, tend to grow slowly as females only reach sexually maturity at age ten years and give birth to a single calf after a yearlong pregnancy

Several thousand southern right whales are believed to survive, and they have shown encouraging population growth since their protection.  South Africa’s population is believed to have grown from 100 to 1000 animals since 1940.

Northern right whales are the most endangered of all large whales.  They number only several hundred, and populations do not appear to have grown in the decades since their protection began.

A sad case of wrong to be right, don’t you think…?

Visit S8 De Kelders at www.geocaching.com




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