Visitors to Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront are often treated to interesting marine sighting such as Cape fur seals frolicking in its harbour. However, the recent sighting of an extremely rare sighting of a Dwarf Sperm whale is one for the books.
The smallest of all the whale species – a dwarf sperm whale – was spotted in Cape Town’s V&A waterfront harbour on Friday 11 November, 2016 and has apparently been swimming in and around the Waterfront for past two weeks.
Simon Elwen, a Research Fellow at the Mammal Research Institute, located at the University of Pretoria, says it’s quite rare to see a live free swimming animal so close to shore, as they prefer the deeper mid-levels of the ocean, mainly feeding on squid and crab, with most of what we know about them coming from the study of stranded carcasses.
The Dwarf Sperm whale swimming in a basin opposite the Quay Four restaurant in the V&A Waterfront. Image by Sion Stanton.
They are quite small – smaller than a dolphin – growing up to about 2,7 metres in length and weighing in at approximately 250 kilograms. Sion Stanton, a wildlife photographer based in Cape Town, visited the V&A Waterfront on Friday 11 November 2016 to see the rare whale.
This Dwarf Sperm whale was spotted swimming in a basin in front of the Quay Four restaurant. Image by Sion Stanton.
“I spotted the Dwarf Sperm whale at around 08:10 in front of the Quay Four restaurant. I watched it for about an hour, as it swam in circles, moving around the basin.”
“I spoke to a member of a dive company based at the waterfront, who told me that they occasionally spotted the whale swimming in another basin for almost two weeks, before it moved to the basin in front of Quay Four.”
Elethu Mkhangelwa, manager at the Quay Four restaurant also spotted the Dwarf Sperm whale in the basin opposite their eatery, and says it generated quite a lot of interest over the weekend.
“We spotted the whale in the basin in front of our restaurant on Friday and Saturday, and it was quite popular with our guests. I’ve been told that the whale is extremely rare, so it was quite an experience to see it so close to us.”
Andre Van Kets, owner of Cape Town car hire company Drive South Africa, says a rare sighting of this magnitude just adds to South Africa’s rich diversity of wildlife. “South Africa is blessed with the Big Seven, which includes southern right whales and great white sharks. To have a rare species such as the Dwarf Sperm whale on our shores at the iconic V&A Waterfront – one of Cape Town’s top tourist attractions – just further illustrates how incredible our country’s biodiversity is.”