Whale, Dolphin and Shark Watching

Today a whale has to be more valuable as a tourist attraction than its oil, meat and bones for the whale to survive.

The best way to protect whales and dolphins, sharks, seals, penguins, pelagic birds and just about every other natural resource is to make them earn their own way from tourism.

The companies on this website are more than just tour operators, they are conservation organizations.  Every person who pays to get in a shark cage or go whale watching or dives in the sardine run makes is a conservationist.

Help preserve the incredible, vibrant and awe inspiring beauty of Southern Africa’s oceans by traveling, touring and viewing what we have. 

Hope to see you soon in our waters.

Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans as this scientific order is known) are commonly found all along the Southern African coastline. Some whales and dolphins are resident such as Brydes Whale and Bottlenose Dolphins respectively and others, such as Humpback Whales, are seasonal visitors.

Many of these animals may be seen from the coastline while some seldom come closer than a kilometer or two to the shore.  There are also those whales such as the Sperm Whale and Beaked Whales which prefer the deeper water and seldom venture onto the continental shelf.

Southern Africa is one of the best places on the planet to see Cetaceans at close quarters, whether it is from the shore, off a boat or even swimming with this creatures.

Boat Based Whale Watching

Boat based whale watching is one of the best ways to view whales and dolphins mostly because you are able to seek and approach these creatures.

Boat based whale watching in South Africa is regulated and only licensed operators may approach Cetaceans closer than 300m.

Another great aspect of boat based whale watching is that these tours usually involve sightings of seals and penguins on the southern coast, as well as sharks and a myriad of sea birds such as albatross.

boat based whalewatching
swimming with dolphins

Swimming With Dolphins

Mozambique is particularly well known for swimming with dolphins experiences. 

The water of Mozambique is warm and in many places is very clear.  Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins are endemic to this coast and cruise up and down the relatively shallow waters of this coastline.

These wild dolphins have become familiar with humans and, although they may not be touched, will come in very close proximity to divers.

The companies that operate dolphin swimming experiences are all located in the southern part of the country, namely at Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane.

Swimming with dolphins is regulated by the Mozambique Government.

In South Africa it is illegal to approach whales and dolphins closer than 300m but it is not uncommon for dolphins to approach swimmers and surfers.

Land Based View Points

Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and Humpback Dolphins are the species most often seen from the shore. 

Southern Right Whales are only found in winter on the southern coast of South Africa, from Saldanaha Bay to Algoa Bay. 

Humpback Whales are found on the east and west coast of Southern Africa in winter and spring but do not come as close inshore as Southern Right Whales.

Bottlenose Dolphins, both Indo-Pacific and Common, can be seen very close to the beach mostly on the East Coast.

Heavyside’s Dolphins prefer the colder waters ofthe West Coast of Sothern Africa and may be seen from the shore.

Humpback Dolphins are fairly rare but may be viewedonboth East and West Coasts.

sardine run

Sardine Run and Cetacean Viewing

One of the most incredible wildlife experiences on the planet is to participate in the Sardine Run of the east coast of South Africa.

Each year, from late February to August, billions of Sardines migrate up the South African east coast.  The species of sardine found here is the Southern African Pilchard, Sardinops sagax.

Sardines are rich in minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids and attract a wide variety of predators including whales, dolphins, sharks, penguins, seals, gannets and other sea birds.

Shark Cage Diving

The southern coast of South Africa is home to the Cape Fur Seal and these animals have made themselves at home on the many rocky islands that dot the coastline.

It is the Cape Fur Seals that attract the migratory Great White Sharks. The sharks will patrol the perimeter of these islands hoping to catch a seal as they leave or return to the island during their search for their own food.

Shark Cage Diving is regulated by the South African government.

About the Publisher, Graeme Lund

I have had a love of the ocean for as long as I can remember. It started with fishing and body surfing on beach holidays and progressed to snorkeling and spearfishing when my family moved to the coast. As an adult I sailed my own Hobie Cat, qualified as a Rescue Diver and crewed on various yachts. On a professional level I worked on a Chokka boat for a short season after returning penniless from a gap year holiday traveling Europe and much later obtained a commercial skippers license for the purpose of conducting whale watching tours in Algoa Bay. The tourism industry has been my bread and butter for most of my life. It started with my incorporating a tour company in 1995 just as South Africa was opening to international tourism. I was the first qualified field guide in the Eastern Cape and later became the approved tour guide trainer for the region. At various times I have owned a tourist information office, an advertising agency specializing in marketing tourism businesses, sat on the board of directors of various tourism organisations and a been a publisher of travel magazines and websites. I am a fervent conservationist. I have served on the Board of Trustees of Bayworld and am currently a director of Bay Action Network Alliance. I believe that tourism is one of the few effective ways of protecting a dwindling natural heritage in the face of overpopulation and irresponsible and selfish exploitation of natural resources. Sadly conservation for conservation sake is as out of date as fax machines and typewriters. Animals and conservation areas must make more money from tourism than they can from exploitation to ensure their long term survival. It is for this reason that I love working with responsible tourism organizations around Southern Africa.