WATCH | Whale super pods (larger than usual) cause stir off SA's West Coast, public urged to keep their distance

2019-12-16 10:15 - Selene Brophy
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A new all-time record for whale sightings at De Ho

The larger than usual whale super groups feeding off the West coast of South Africa are reminiscent of a 2014 phenomenon - "not seen in recent years". 

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) is urging the public and boat operators to be mindful of the "feeding frenzy" taking place, saying the area is more important as a feeding hotspot than initially thought. 

Super pods are defined as 20+ whales, and unfortunately the feeding location of these super groups have coincided with areas of high vessel traffic over the years. 

The DEFF issued a statement on Friday, 13 December saying it has noted with concern reports from members of the public about the "harassment of whale super groups by boat and drone operators". There is a high possibility that whales can abandon an area if disturbed too much.

The super pods have been spotted in the area since the beginning of December. An estimated 200 whales have been seen during the 04-15 November 2019 season, with private aerial photographers, suggesting that more whales may have since joined the group.

According to the Simon's Town boating company it's all about krill (small shrimp like crustaceans) which are raised from the ocean floor by wind induced up-welling.

"The depth of the krill “’bait balls”’ varies according to the conditions and the whales either feed at great depth giving continuous & magnificent fluke-up displays as they dive to begin their feeding cycle, or equally spectacular is when the krill is on the surface and the whales lunge feed with their mouths wide open and ventral pleats fully extended."