Where to see blue Whales?

  • By: Alex
  • Date: July 29, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the largest animals known to have lived on Earth. At 30 meters in length and 180 tonnes, they represent a formidable predator of the oceans.

Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the largest animals known to have lived on Earth. At 30 meters in length and 180 tonnes, they represent a formidable predator of the oceans.

The blue whale is an endangered species of great conservation concern due to whaling activities by industrial nations that severely depleted this population in the past century. Illegal whaling by the USSR until 1986 (and possibly still) and Japan in the North Pacific Ocean represent a severe threat to recovery.

On a positive note, blue whales are protected from international commercial whaling under the International Whaling Commission (IWC) worldwide moratorium. The eastern Pacific (North America/South America, including coastal waters of the Bering Seas) population has recovered to about 21,000 individuals.

This recovering population is found in a variety of locations along the coasts of North America and South America and in the coastal waters of Japan.

Blue whales are baleen whales and feed on deep-swimming krill (eukaryotic invertebrate marine animal). They tend to be solitary, although they do occur in groups of 5 to 10. This species is often seen at the surface and readily approaches boats to take a look; individuals are therefore easily sighted around South Africa during the southern hemisphere summer months (November through March).

During winter, blue whales migrate northward into the seas around Antarctica.


Where can I see a blue whale in the US?

Where can I see a blue whale in the US?

Blue whales are rarely seen off the coasts of Florida, California, and Oregon. Such sightings may last for extended periods (weeks to months) during migration periods. There is also a small resident population of blue whales in offshore waters around the Channel Islands of Southern California year-round, where boats can be chartered from local marinas.

The summer is the best time to see these giants for those on the east coast (Florida) and west coast (Washington, Oregon). Move away from the touristy areas for your chance to view a blue whale – far out at sea in Monterey Bay off California or closer in around Florida’s Everglades National Park during their annual breeding season.


Where to see blue whales in South Africa?

The most popular place for sighting this elusive animal off the coast of South Africa is Hermanus, an old fishing village situated in the southwestern corner of Western Cape Province. Blue krill (Euphausia Superba) are abundant here and attract large numbers of other marine animals including, seals, dolphins, and other whales. Blue whales are often seen during the summer months (November through March).

Tourists visiting Hermanus in winter often have the opportunity of witnessing a lively group of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) frolicking close to shore. Southern right whale mothers with their calves are also encountered regularly, representing a memorable sight. The accompanying photo showed a blue whale with southern right whales off the coast of Hermanus in 2008.

The nearby Geyser Rock Marine Reserve is also an exciting place to discover more about these marine mammals and their environment from knowledgeable rangers who staff this facility.

For a more extensive view of the whales, take a boat trip out to Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, where you can expect sightings of great white sharks as well as migrating whales from June through September.

A visit to Africa’s only Marine Protected Area in Walker Bay is another option for whale watching. A boat trip to the Penguin Islands is another option for observing great white sharks.

Blue whale sightings tend to be seasonal along the South African coast. Sightings peak between November and March, with lower sighting rates in May, June, July, and September. Sightings are rare in April.

Blue whales are most frequently sighted off the southwestern corner of Western Cape Province, followed by the north-western coast and Eastern Cape Province (see map below).

Sightings occur at all times of day but peak during morning hours from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then again from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Where can you see blue whales in Australia?

Blue Whales are regularly seen at Hervey Bay, Queensland, and off the north Queensland coast.

You can also see these gentle giants in the waters just off Sydney and Melbourne during their migration season from May through August. Because of their size and length, blue whales are easily spotted by land-based observers in calm coastal waters and boats.

Blue whales are best seen at a distance of a few hundred meters as these animals can approach boats and trains quickly. If you get too close, the whale may quietly slip away or aggressively charge the vessel depending on its level of disturbance. A tour operator should be able to provide information regarding acceptable viewing distances and locations.

Blue whales are most commonly seen off Point Danger (north-eastern Australia) in early summer (June through September), Hervey Bay, Queensland in late summer to early winter (November through March), and off the coast of New South Wales/Victoria area from May through August. Sightings have occurred during other months also but are rare.


Where to see blue whales in South America?

Blue Whales are regularly seen along the coasts of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil during migration seasons (May through August and September through November). Sightings have also been made off the coast of West Africa between March and October.

Large numbers of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are also seen in South America during July through November off the coast of Brazil.


Where to see blue whales in the Indian Ocean?

Blue Whales have been seen off Sri Lanka, Kerala, and along the east coast of India between May through September. Sightings have also been reported off the coast of Pakistan from April through June. Sightings have been more frequent during these months than in other South Asian countries.

Where to see blue whales in the Atlantic Ocean?

Blue Whales are seen regularly in New England, Carolinas, and Bermuda between April through November. Sightings have also been reported along the coast of Canada from June through September. Sightings have occurred during most months, but sightings are rare in May and October.

Where to see blue whales in the Mediterranean Sea?

Blue Whales are seen occasionally along the coast of Spain and Greece between March/April and November/December.

Blue whales have also been sighted off Somalia, Malta, and Italy from June through September. Sightings occur throughout most months, but sightings are rare in April, May, and October.

Where to see blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere?

Blue Whales are regularly seen along with South Africa, Angola, and Namibia coasts between May and September. Sightings have also been reported off the coast of Zambia during June/July.

Sightings occur throughout most months, but sightings are rare from October through April.


Why are blue whales so hard to find?

Why are blue whales so hard to find?

So, blue whales are the most giant creatures on Earth, yet they are hard to find. How do they manage to hide in such a vast ocean? They have different ways of hiding depending on how far away from the land they are.

Blue Whales that reside close to stocks of krill (small shrimp-like crustaceans) tend to stay in the same area as they search for more food. This is why sightings are most common in shallow coastal waters.

The blue whales that reside further offshore go wherever their food supply takes them, which is usually seasonal. The furthest range of some migratory species has been documented at over 11 000km (6,800 nautical miles).

In the ocean, blue whales and other whale species tend to travel in 2 to 15. They are most often spotted in family units consisting of a mother and her offspring but may include additional adults (silver-tips) and juveniles.

Blue whales that live off the west coast of North America migrate during the summer to the waters off Alaska, where they feed on krill and remain at sea for 2 to 3 months before returning to their breeding grounds. They have also been spotted passing through the San Francisco bay area in December, presumably as they return home after foraging at sea during fall migration.

Blue whales that live along the coasts of South Africa tend to migrate northwards during the warmer summer months to feed on krill. Oddly enough, they migrate southwards for 2 to 3 months in the winter, presumably to find sub-surface cooling as the surface temperature of the ocean drops between November and February.