We often see Bryde’s whales on our way out to dive sites such as Steenbras Deep, Drop Zone and Blousteen. They can be spotted moving quite swiftly through the water. Last year there were so many about, we literally had to dodge them on our way to and from the dive sites.

  1. The correct pronunciation of Bryde’s Whale is “brewdus”.
  2. The whale is named after Johan Bryde, Norwegian consul to South Africa (who built the first whaling Stations in South Africa) by scientist Orjan Olsen.
  3. They seem to be here all year round and the best time to see them in False Bay is from March to November, peaking between March and June.
  4. There are thought to be two types of Bryde’s whales off Southern Africa, a smaller inshore (coastal) species as well as a slightly larger offshore species.
  5. Bryde’s Whales grow up to 13.7m (females) and 14.5m (males) in length. At birth they can be between 3.95 and 4.15m in length.Brydes_whale
  6. The Body mass of Bryde’s Whales can reach 25 metric tons.
  7. The Bryde’s whale is a baleen whale, belonging to the same group as the blue whale and humpback whale. It has no teeth, but has two rows of baleen plates.
  8. The Bryde’s whale has twin blowholes with a low splashguard in the front. The blow is columnar or bushy, about 3m to 4m high. Sometimes they exhale while underwater.
  9. Bryde’s whales seem to display erratic behaviour, surfacing at irregular intervals and changing directions for unknown reasons.
  10. They regularly dive for about 5 – 15 minutes (up to 20 minutes) after 4 – 7 blows.
  11. Bryde’s whales are able to dive to depths of 300m.
  12. The Bryde’s whale usually swim at between 1.6 to 6.4 km / hour but can reach speeds of 19 – 24 km / hour.
  13. Bryde’s whales have an upright dorsal fin that can grow up to 46cm in height. It is located about two-thirds along the back of the whale and is often frayed or ragged along the rear edge.Brydeswhale_sophiewebb-swfsc-star2006
  14. The tail of the Bryde’s whale is broad and centrally notched. It never breaks the surface and their flippers are small and slender.
  15. They usually appear individually or in pairs and sometimes in loose groupings of up to 20 animals can be found in feeding areas. They are more active on the water surface than many other whales, especially in the coastal form of Bryde’s whales.
  16. They sometimes give off short (0.4 second) powerful, low frequency vocalizations that resemble a human moan.
  17. Off South Africa, the inshore form feeds mainly on anchovies, maasbankers and pilchards. Offshore Bryde’s whales feed mainly on euphausiids (a type of krill) as well as various deep-sea fish.
  18. Bryde’s whales breed in alternate years, apparently in any season, with an autumnal peak. Their gestation period is estimated at 12 months.
  19. Over 2000 were caught off the Cape Province of South Africa between 1911 and 1967. South African banned whaling in 1979.
  20. Today, the main threat to Bryde’s whales in Southern Africa are ship strikes.