A sperm whale calf swims next to its mother and a pod of sperm whales, about four miles off the coast of the Agat Marina in Guam. (Photo: Guam Variety News, Chris Bangs / AP)
Spain is creating a marine wildlife reserve for the migrations of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea and will prohibit searching for fossil fuels in the area.
The Spanish government announced on Friday that the protected reserve will cover 46 385 square kilometres between the Balearic Islands and the mainland. It says the area "is of great ecological value and represents a migration path of vital importance for cetaceans in the Western Mediterranean".
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Teresa Ribera, Spain's minister for ecological transition, says "this is the end of new prospecting or any type of extraction of fossil fuels" in the protected area.
The species Spain hopes to protect are Fin whales, sperm whales, grey sperm whales, pilot whales, Cuvier's beaked whales, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, common dolphins and loggerhead turtles.
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The South African coast is also a popular route for whales, so here are some spots you can be sure to catch a glimpse of these beasts of the deep.
Whale watching in SA:
The West Coast
On the Cape West Coast, excellent sightings of southern rights can be enjoyed all the way from Strandfontein to Lambert's Bay, Elands Bay, St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay and Ysterfontein, just north of Cape Town. Even in the bays of Cape Town southern right whales are frequently spotted. If you’re lucky, you can even see them from the road along the False Bay coast, or on the scenic coastal Victoria Road. If you don’t want to push your luck, book a trip with the experts.
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Hermanus and Walker Bay
There is real value behind the now commercial Hermanus whale season. The whales really do come up close to the shore here, and they have a particularly playful attitude towards people it seems.
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If you’re after the Killers, here might be a good place to look. Hiking the St Blaize Trail will give you a good view of the bay below, where you can spot southern rights, humpbacks, bryde’s whales or the deadly killer whales feeding on seals on the island in the bay. If you want to go out to sea, book a trip with the boat operators in Plettenberg Bay, further along the Garden Route.
The Wild Coast
From Cape St Francis onwards, the cliff-lined coast gives some of the best vantage points from where to see Humpbacks, bryde's whales, and further north towards Port St Johns, even sperm whales. Dolphins are also abundant in this area. You can spot them from land, or opt for a whale watching boat ride.
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This is humpback whale territory, which stretches as far as Cape Vidal. The whales always stay in the perimeters of the coastline. From mid-May to mid-September, they move more north to breed off the Mozambique coast, and from September to December they return, on route to the nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica.
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During the months of May to December Humpback whales and Southern Right Whales arrive along the Eastern Cape coast.
One of the best parts of whale watching along the Eastern Cape coast is that you don’t need a boat ride into the ocean to see the whales – they are clearly visible with just a pair of binoculars.
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Humpbacks, bryde's whales, and even sperm whales can be spotted along the eastern coastal region of the Wild Coast. With the warm waters reaching this part of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal coast, it’s no surprise that dolphins are also regularly seen here too.