Whales at Hermanus
Cliffs on one side and mountains on the other, the secluded town of Hermanus rests at the very end of Walker Bay. Here is where the whales live.
While strolling down the harbor, you can see hints of this towns past, as a quiet, out of the way village filled with the work and lives of fishermen. Today, however, while Hermanus is still making a living from the sea, it's now a full fledged tourist town.
A Modern City and a Bygone Era
Hermanus boasts all of the conveniences that people today demand. There is fine dining, malls and markets to sate the shopping demons, clean beaches waves to surf and sporty boats for rent.
There is also a very nice museum, Old Harbor Museum; here you can gawk at cases of old fishing paraphernalia, fishing boats from the seventeen and eighteen hundreds as well as the skeletal jaws of sharks.
Hermanus tourists tend to have one thing in common. They are whale watchers. There is probably no better place in the world to observe these majestic creatures than from the cliffs of Hermanus, except maybe from a boat on the water there. Hermanus is located on an inlet bay. The baleen whales called the southern right Wales come to Hermanus to birth and raise their young in the summer months.
Baleen refers to the way these whales feed. They have no teeth. The Hermanus Southern Right whales are filter feeders. The plates they use to filter krill, plankton and fish are called Baleen. They are made of keratin, like our nails and hair. Historically, it was used to stiffen corsets and collars as well as in parasols.
The Southern Right Whale
During a time when people hunted with abandon, The whales of Hermanus were a favored breed. These Whales have a considerable amount of blubber which was prized for cosmetics, toiletries and lamp oil; it made these whales float to the surface when they were killed. This made the harvest easy and earned them The "Right" in their name, as they are the right whales to hunt. The "Southern" just refers to the part of the hemisphere that they populated. There s also a "Northern Right Whale"
Southern Right Whales are black. They commonly have large patches of calloused skin, called callosities. These raised patches are covered in cyamides which are parasites, also called whale lice. From a distance, these infestations are often confused for barnacles and the whitefish patterns makes each whale unique and easy to track.
As a successful tourist destination, accommodations in Hermanus can be very expensive. Some options could be to either book in advance and take advantage of any discounts the hotels might have, or travel in a larger group for a longer period and find a vacation rental home. A good place to look into this is at the Hermanus Accommodation Centre.
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