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I see ... a whale!

Between July and October each year, you´ll witness one of nature´s miracles: the Southern right whale visit to the coasts of Maldonado and Rocha. Enjoy this whale watching route with more than fifty years of history, and follow them responsibly!

In a natural enviroment, from both land or aboard a ship, you can watch these sea giants. Seeing their V-shaped spout, since they come to Uruguayan shores to mate and socialize, and often give birth.

The South Atlantic coasts are part of the migration route of the Southern right whale. During Summer, they feed on tons of krill near Antartica (Falkland amd Souther Giorgia islands), to start their migration towards Peninsula Valdés (Argentina), Maldonado and Rocha (Uruguay) in search of warmer, calmer waters, until they reach Imbituba, Ferrugem (Santa Catarina, Brasil)

THe adventure of watching them on ship is as moving as watching them from the shore. Differnent companies provide sea trips from Piriapolis Port.

Being able to observe their mating and reproduction cycle, in a respectful environment, at a distance of three hundred metres, is a memory that will be treasured forever. Joined by local guides and following the sea mammals protection laws, you can appreciate every detail, such as the birds flying above the baleens that make every little distraction an opportunity to catch fish. Also, along the Whale’s Route, about 290 kilometres along the coastal routes 9 and 10, you can see bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, seagulls, sea lions, seals, even albatross and penguins, the latter accidentally washing on Uruguayan shores after their migration from Anctartica.

 

There are ninety cetacean species, including whales and dolphins. Cetaceans evolved from land animals, ancestral carnivores, that adapted to underwater living fifty-five million years ago.

The longevity of the Southern right whale is a mystery, but it is reported that they might live between fifty and seventy years. Its populace grows at a rate of seven percent each year, so it is doubled in number every ten years. Actually, there’s an estimated populace of between twelve and seventeen thousand, while in 1600 there we reportedly three-hundred thousand. This reudction was due to irrestricted whale hunting to extract their oil and barbs. Whalers coined the term ‘right whale’ because they considered this slow, approachable species to be the ‘right’ one to hunt. Industry used the oil to fuel lamps, and their barbs to make clothing and clock coils. Thousands were slaughtered during the 19th century until protection was agreed in 1935. The hunting decline was due to the discovery of fossil fuels and the governments enforcing protection laws.

Another mark of their identity are the callocites (white markings) along their heads, which change in shape and form from one whale to anither and don’t change over time. Also, their lack of any dorsal fin makes it easier to regcocise this species.

Maximum adult length: males = 14 m / females = 16 m
Average adult weight: 40 - 45 tons, the equivalent of 10 elephants
Newborns: length = 4 a 6 m Average weigth= 10 tons.
Life span: 70 years
Swimming speed: 15 km/h

View Points

 

Unlike other countries, Uruguay has the conditions to see whales from the coast. The best points are: Playa Hermosa, Cerro San Antonio, Punta Colorada, Punta Negra, Punta del Chileno, Playa Mansa de Punta del Este between parada 23 and 40, José Ignacio Lighthouse, La Paloma, La Pedrera, Santa Teresa, Cerro Verde, and Cabo Polonio.

We suggest checking social media to learn whether where whales have been seen, or if they are there at the moment so you can reach a view point quickly. Follow there users: Grupo Red de Avistaje de Ballena Franca y Delfines, @OCC_uy, @faunamarinauruguay, @MarinaFauna, Proyecto Franca Austral, or sharing your experience here. There’s also a Telegram group named “Ballenas Uy” and the public Facebook group "Ballenas uy", they both make whale watching logs.