Whale Conservation in South Africa

With any whale watching expedition there are certain conservation issues involved

Whale Watching in South AfricaWhale Conservation in South Africa

Whilst whale watching boat trips are considered the highlight of any whale watching expedition, there are certain conservation issues involved...

Some environmentalists suggest there is strong evidence that this method of whale watching affects the biology and ecology of whales and dolphins.

Whales have intensely acute hearing and touch, and environmental campaigners are more than a little concerned with the 'quick buck' mentality of boat owners who disregard local regulations (those who get closer than the prescribed 300m without a permit, or who exhibit reckless behaviour like approaching the whales without killing their engines, or relentlessly pursuing them).

Noise close to shore, like that produced by industry and motorboat activity, may disturb whales. As does the release of untreated sewerage effluent or chemical pollutants into the sea.

In South Africa boats must observe the 300m specification if close to whales without a permit. And even with one, they should not venture closer than 50m. When within 300m of any whale, boats must move at 'no wake' speed and move at less than 10 knots, with no sudden changes in speed or direction. They may also not spend longer than 30 minutes within 300m of any whale.

Around 27 permits have been issued for BBWW around the country's coastline.

By regulating the attraction, whales are allowed certain sanctuary in our waters. However the whales themselves break the legal specifications, sometimes swimming within metres of a stationary boat. By law licensed boats should move away at the first given opportunity.

Featured Whale Watching Pages

Where to see the Whales

Find out where to see the Whales in South Africa - Here you will find a detailed map showing the different regions in South Africa for the best whale watching experience. Areas include Walker Bay in the Overberg, Arniston, Struisbaai and L'Agulhas...

More info and maps: Where to see the Whales

Tips for Spotting Whales

Whale watching in South Africa is so popular that whales have joined the ranks of lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Collectively they make up the 'big six' of African game viewing. Here are a few valuable tips to make your experience...

More info and gallery: Tips for Spotting Whales

Whale Watching Infographic

For a handy reference guide about everything to do with Whale Watching in South Africa, we have prepared a handy, downloadable .pdf for you to enjoy at your leisure and help you in your pursuit of enjoying the experience of watching the...

More info and download: Download our free Whale Watching Infographic


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Noise close to shore, like that produced by industry and motorboat activity, may disturb whales.

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