And they take to the sea. The largest mammal of all, in South Africa and the entire world, is the blue whale which can grow to 33m in length. But of the eight whale species found in South African waters (including the dramatic black-and-white killer whale), the most frequently seen by humans is the southern right whale. This imposing creature comes into coastal bays to calve, allowing for superb land-based viewing. Image
It represents one of conservation’s success stories as – once considered the “right” whale to hunt – its population was so depleted that it was designated a protected species. With the greater familiarity that their return to the coastal bays has produced, they are now as well loved as the many dolphins in our coastal waters.
South Africa’s seas are rich in fish species. Perhaps the most awesome of these is the great white shark, but this is one of more than 2 000 species comprising 16% of the world’s total. Various line fish, rock lobster and abalone are of particular interest to gourmets; pelagic fish (sardines and pilchards) and hake have large-scale commercial value.