Donkergat Whaling Station

Landmarks / Miscellaneous in or near Saldanha, Cape West Coast in the Western Cape, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsDonkergat Whaling Station

Where? Donkergat Whaling Station was closed in 1967. This information is for those who are interested in the history of Donkergat.
Saldaha, Cape West Coast, Western Cape

Overnight? Stay in Saldanha, in Western Cape

Donkergat Whaling Station was closed in 1967. This information is intended for those who are interested in the history of whaling and Donkergat.

Saldanha is one of the charming towns perched along the Cape West Coast of South Africa, known for its gorgeous coastline and unique vegetation. But, it was once also an epicentre for whaling or whale hunting; long before measures were put into place to protect these beautiful marine mammals.

Today, the Donkergat Whaling Station remains as testament to the West Coast of yesteryear. It was opened in 1909 and had three ships, which came before (and had a massive impact on) the whaling industry that would hit South Africa with a bang. It was initiated by John Bryde, in response to the vanishing of whales in other waters of the world, due to excessive hunting. There was a lull in the industry, but it was resurrected in 1947, and Saldanha was an important centre for this movement.

Donkergat became the whaling station of choice for countless ships from around the world, who would hunt mainly sperm whales, but also a significant number of sei whales. Finally, in 1967, the whaling station was closed. Sadly, the lives of more than 20 000 whales were lost before this decision was made.

Decades ago, the Donkergat public beach was a dangerous place to swim, since the sharks had been lured by the whale carcasses being brought in. Shark attacks on humans were frequent. However, over time, and with the absence of whale carcasses being dragged along by boats, the shark attacks have all but stopped completely.

This stretch of the coast is often stroked by winds, which makes it particularly popular amongst kite-surfers and wind-surfers. Fishermen spend their days on boats or on the rocks, catching fresh seafood for locals and tourists to enjoy.

Saldanha Bay is about two hours from the Mother City of Cape Town, and the magnificent Cape Winelands.

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