Unique whale behaviour sighted on the KZN South Coast

Unique whale behaviour sighted on the KZN South Coast

A recent dive at Aliwal Shoal on the KZN South Coast saw John Miller, of Shark Cage Diving KZN, swimming alongside a humpback whale mother and her calf. Upon approaching the pair, Miller realised that – quite unusually – the mother was actually cradling the calf in her mouth. “It was an amazing experience, I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this before. Once the mother realised I was there, the calf started moving slowly from the mother’s mouth, the mother moved below the calf and gave me a proper stare before they both turned and swam away.”

According to Dr Stephanie Plön of Bayworld Centre for Research and Education in Port Elizabeth, much about whale behaviour is still being discovered, however the bonding between mother and calf is often physical: “What we do know is that, during the initial development phase of the calf, there is little, if any, vocal communication. What we do see is that there is physical bonding – like cuddling – so it’s possible this was a physical display of the bond. It also needs to be recognised that whales have limited use of their limbs, so using the mouth may be a natural way to compensate.”

Aliwal Shoal, which is just 5km offshore of Umkomaas River, is one of two Marine Protected Area’s on the KZN South Coast, alongside Protea Banks, 8km off Shelly Beach. Both of these are world-revered dive sites which have prompted several international documentaries and attracted an influx of global tourists. Alongside migrating humpback whales, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are home to a variety of incredible marine species, including big game fish and numerous shark species.

For those who prefer whale sightings from the land, the KZN South Coast also has a number of whale and dolphin viewing spots – including Umtentweni Conservancy Whale Deck, Ramsgate Whale Deck, and Umdoni Golf Club Whale Deck – which are popular between May and December when the humpback and southern right whales are migrating.

To find out more about the KZN South Coast, simply download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play or the Apple Store or visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. You can also follow the KZN South Coast on social media – ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook and YouTube, or @infosouthcoast on Twitter and Instagram.

High resolution images are available upon request.
(Photographer credit: John Miller /Shark Cage Diving KZN)

Caption: A recent dive at Aliwal Shoal on the KZN South Coast saw John Miller, of Shark Cage Diving KZN, swimming alongside a humpback whale mother cradling her calf in her mouth. World-revered dive site Aliwal Shoal, is just 5km offshore of Umkomaas River and is one of two Marine Protected Area’s on the KZN South Coast. Alongside migrating humpback whales, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks are home to a variety of incredible marine species, including big game fish and numerous shark species.

To find out more about the KZN South Coast, simply download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app or visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. You can also follow the KZN South Coast on social media – ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook and YouTube, or @infosouthcoast on Twitter and Instagram.

About Ugu South Coast Tourism
Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) is the official destination management organisation of the Ugu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The Ugu District comprises four local municipalities that include Umdoni, Umzumbe, Umuziwabantu and Ray Nkonyeni. USCT’s mandate is to grow tourism within the KZN South Coast. This involves implementing marketing and development initiatives that are aimed at showcasing the diverse offerings and experiences of the South Coast as tourist destination. A board of directors oversees USCT, headed by CEO, Phelisa Mangcu.

About KZN South Coast
Known as the ‘Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom’, the KZN South Coast stretches 120 kilometres from Scottburgh to Port Edward and inland to Harding. Here, the spirit of adventure can be discovered among the many cultural experiences, as well as the 35 nature trails and 58 beaches, ideal for activities like river rafting, abseiling, suspension bridges, paintball, surfing, SUP, canoeing, beach horse rides, shark cage diving and free diving. Nicknamed ‘The Golf Coast’, there are 11 golf courses on the KZN South Coast ranging in difficulty, with endless hiking, mountain biking and 4×4 trails for more rugged excursions. Promoting sustainability, the KZN South Coast has a growing agri-tourism sector that offers world-class produce and hosts tours and excursions. The region boasts a number of permanently managed Blue Flag beaches, and is home to some of the world’s top diving sites, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks. The originality continues with the annual Sardine Run, coined the #GreatestShoalonEarth, which is the largest biomass migration on earth and a marvel to witness. The region’s many nature reserves are inhabited by indigenous bird and wildlife, and it holds the title for ‘smallest desert on earth’, The Red Desert in Port Edward. The KZN South Coast is a fast-emerging MICE destination which also plays host to a number of high-profile events including the The Bike Fest, Uvukile Gospel Festival, Ugu Jazz, Ugu Film Festival and the South Coast Fever MTB & Trail Run Series.

Issued on behalf of:
Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT)

Disseminated by:
Olivia Jones Communications