Umdloti Coastal Conservancy

Umdloti Beach

Whale Sightings Register

Umdloti Surfer


When you spot whales or dolphins off Umdloti Beach, send us an e-mail and we will record your sighting on this page.

Dolphins can be seen from Umdloti throughout the year.

Whales tend to visit the warmer Indian Ocean waters off Umdloti for calving from end June to end November. Our Nature and Wildlife section gives tips on how to distinguish between the different species of whales and dolphins frequently seen from Umdloti shores.

The fantastic pictures of whales and dolphins on this page were all taken by local photographer, Sarah Jones. She has lovely shots of surfers, breakers and kite surfing in Umdloti Beach and her pictures can be viewed in our Sarah Jones Gallery.

25 November 2013
Hi there. We are visiting from gauteng and spotted a large school of baby dolphins the past two days sun 15 th & mon 16 th dec swimming past us towards umhlanga , between 7 & 8 in the mornings- there were more than 100 dolphins with a few adults and then the babies following trying to jump in the air. It seems as if they also came to pay their respect to Madiba .

25 November 2013
Dear all
I am not an expert in seeing whales but certainly they were 2 of them spraying water and getting their humpy backs very slowly out of the water, traveling south to Durban right now around 18.00 on 24 th November.( I wished I took a ride with them) Gorgeous!!
Maria Badicel

9 November 2013
What an amazing season it has been for whale sightings. You cast your eyes upon the ocean, any time of day and you spot the humpbacks and southern right whales. Really been a spectacular season. Here are some pic’s of the humpbacks heading back to the Antarctica this morning. It’s not quite the end of the season so keep your eyes on the ocean. Signing out for 2013…enjoy the views of the tail enders heading back home for this year.
Best regards

16 October 2013
We're staying at blue largo Westbrook and seen whales every morning and evening. Lovely to watch them slapping their fins on the water.
Neil Rathmann

15 October 2013
This morning between about 6.30am to about 7.15am we saw from our balcony (we’re right next to beach bistro in westbrook beach) 2 pods of whales. The closer one was quite close to shore (but behind shark nets) and we thought there were at least 3, with calves present. They were lobtailing, often not slapping down hard but just bobbing their tails out of the water for extended periods. One whale, which looked like it may have been somewhere between a calf and a teenager, breached the water and cleared it’s whole body horizontally above the water. It was pretty spectacular. Will keep you posted, only saw this site online today, but we often see whales, at least once or twice a week for the last couple of weeks. Often also at night!
Kind Regards
Melanie Basson

14 October 2013
We are on holiday in the Toti Cabanas as from 8 Oct 2013. Every day we see these great animals is the sea. This web site is good thank you
Ben Smith

Just spotted a humpback playing just behind the breakers from my window in La Mercy. Just north of La Mercy beach hotel. He was there from about 14h30 until now, (15h37) Took some pics but camera not awesome. Will send as soon as I downloaded it.
Adele Grabe

15 September 2013
Watched whales off Umhlanga beach, quite far out at about 1600 on Sept 15th. First sighting roughly in line with the lighthouse. Blowing and a few tail slaps over a period of about 20 minutes. Travelling towards Durban. Not sure how many but a few…..appeared to be HUMPBACK WHALES .
Plenty of people saw this. For me it was a first off the Umhlanga coast.

Keith Upton.

13 Sepetmber 2013
I am no marine biologist, but what is very prolific (5 years of whale sightings now, along our East Coast), is that early in the whale season (June/July), they travel North, shunting like steam trains. You see a lot of spouts, without too much activity, but upon their return trip (back to Antarctica), this time of year (Sept/Oct,) you tend to see lots of activity. I am seeing the humpbacks breaching daily now, just before dark. Absolutely phenomenal.

Best regards

12 Sepetmber 2013
Whale viewing with tail thrashing and breaching taking place for a couple of hours. There must have been approximately half a dozen whales with young calves as well. Really spectacular displays (pictures attached). I am seeing whales daily so keep your eyes on the ocean

Best regards

5 September 2013
Hi guys, watched 2,whales jumping out of the sea moving northwards on Wed 4th September @ about 15h.30.
Judy @ Spindrift Guest House

17:10pm Sunday 11 Aug 2013
I guys just thought I'll drop a line saying we have just seen a couple of whales pass by La Mercy beach (we live between Sea Belle and la Mercy Beach Hotel) and saw it from our balcony. Seemed like only 200 metres in from beach. Mother and calf plus another 1 or 2. They were, (for a few minutes only), "jumping" high out of the water but after that became more "settled". Great to see - they were travelling Northward.
Reg and fam.

6 August 2013
The whales are re ever present now and I see them almost on a daily basis. The pic's above were taken by my girlfriend Debbie, whilst I was slogging it out in the garage. I did however manage to catch the tail end of the sightingas they headed past La Mercy. I heard on ECR yesterday (05 Aug 2013) about the Southern Right Whale that came pretty close to beaching off Sheffield Beach. Ski boats were used to direct it back into deeper waters. So lots of activity at present and a lot of bait fish around.
Best regards

28 July 2013

approximately 3 - 4 Humpbacks passing by Umdloti. They were quite far out so a little difficult to get decent photo's, but I have attached a couple. I was viewing them through the bino's and then had a pod of dolphins come into view as well. The Humpbacks hung around for a quite a while and then started heading North. It looks like we may have a bumper whale sighting season, so keep on looking for that telltale sign (i.e. Spouts)...
Best regards

18 July 2013

It’s that time of the year again and after scanning the ocean for the past month and a half, I finally spotted a mother and calf Humpback passing by Umdloti at 06:50 this morning (thrashing their flukes on the water surface). They hung around for quite a while as there appeared to be bait fish around. Couta and snoek jumping out of the water as well. They were pretty close to shore (approximately 300 m). Unfortunately due to the cold front and poor lighting I could not clearly pick them up on my camera. So, to all of those whale lovers out there, keep scanning the ocean as they are here.
Best regards

19 December 2012

Good day

We have spotted 3 -4 whales playing at 05:00 - 6:45 this morning.

It seems that 1 of the whales is still a baby.

From the photo on your website, it appears to be the same whales that you have spotted on the 16th. What type of whales is it? Are whales territory bounded? Will it be possible to see the whales near the beach in this area again? How far do whales travel per day?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Ansie de Wet


16 December 2012

I was quite amazed this morning and for this time of year, to see this young calf breaching of our shores. I guess this is the straddler who is wanting to know what happens in Durban at this time of year :) I did not expect to see another whale sighting this year, so this is precious...

Best regards

14 October 2012

After an Endless season of seeing spouts only, finally some real action. This humpback was breaching just off Umdloti this morning. Unbeknown to me at the time, there was a calf as well. I only picked up on this in a later image. I have seen quite a lot of spouts as of recent, but this morning was spectacular. To all those whale lovers out there, keep your eyes peeled.

See pictures of humpback breaching

See Pictures of calf

Best regards

6 october 2012

We spotted 2 humpback whales doing some awesome breaches off the beach at Causarina beach on Saturday afternoon 6th October 2012.


14 September 2012

We saw our first whale (or possibly two) in Umdloti this morning at 7am from the granny pools, putting a fin or tail up in the air and splashing down again. What a wonderful sight!

All the best
Matt and Carey

2 September 2012

we have spotted a number of hump-backed whales this morning from 7am and they are still swimming past.We also saw 3 go past last week saturday.

Kind Regards
niccu and jp

1 September 2012

It has been a while since I had anything to say in terms of whale sightings, but right now (31 August 2012 at 17:10) I’ve lost count as to the number of humpbacks passing by. I started counting and eventually gave up. No spectacular tail thrashing or breaching, but spouts rising all over. I had my last few single sightings on the 12th and 13th of June and then the 23rd and 26th of July. We now have a full moon (supposedly blue moon). Whether this has anything to do with the arrival of so many humpbacks or not, I don’t know, but it certainly looks like the humpbacks have finally arrived.

Kind Regards

27 July 2012

This morning at about 7.15am my family and I observed several whales in la mercy beach. Later in the afternoon when we returned home at about 4.30pm we were once again graced by their presence. Awesome and amazing sight to remember for a long time.
Shireen Amod

3 June 2012

It is Whale sighting time again. A little bit earlier than usual (i.e. from my observations, but they are known to travel our shores this time of year). We recently heard about a wash up of a Humpback Whale on the South Coast (unfortunate as is it may be). Well this morning, I happened to see four Humpback whales passing by (09:00). They hung around a while (no real action), but eventually headed North and deeper out to sea. Just a little too far out to get any decent pic’s. So keep your eyes open, they are around…
Kind regards

21 February 2012

Image Courtesy of Drifters Dolphin Coast Lodge

24 October 2011

Thought I would post a few more pictures. The weather has been great, which has played along for some easy dolphin and whale spotting. We have about one month left before the season ends, so now is the moment to get down to the beachfront for some spectacular viewing. There is also no right time "whales and dolphins are around all day" :)

Kind regards Shane

21 October 2011

I have seen some phenomenal dolphin sightings over the past two days (just off backline). This morning must have been the most dolphins I have ever seen since my days in Umdloti (easily 150 plus - approximately 6 schools). Both mornings between 05:00 and 07:00. Just had a fantastic whale sighting too (pictures below). Sighted four whales on the 18th, one yesterday and today
Kind regards Shane

7 October 2011

The whales are certainly making a strong appearance right now (4 this morning and 2 this evening) camera zoom (pic's attached - just don't do enough justice), but with the naked eye a spectacular feature. So for those with a keen interest in whales - now is the time to get down to the Umdloti beach front :)

Pics: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Best regards Shane

7 October 2011

We are on holiday at Umhlanga Sands and today at around 4pm we spotted a whale splashing in the water. My 8 year old took some pics. We watched it move towards the South Beach and some canooists or could be the lifeguards went to take a closer look. It was wonderful to c

Regards Tas

5 October 2011

Been away for a month but good to be back :) Seems I may have missed a few good whale sightings in my absence (barring the poor weather), but have spotted three already since my return (just off Tobago). Here is a pic of a young one slapping its tail on the surface...Last year the sightings went on until late November so there is still plenty of time (heard on ECR about the Humpback that got caught up in the shark nets of Amanzimtoti. Believe it however managed to free itself :)

Best Regards Shane

22 September 2011

Whale sighting North Beach 0700 this morning
They were quite far out spouting and tails in the air. Also saw a large pod of Dolphins at 0815 swimming close to shore. This was the biggest pod I have seen in a long time.


11 September 2011

Whale sighting North Beach, Umdloti 10:00 today 10/09/2011. There were 2 whales throwing their whole bodies out of the water not just their tails it was an amazing sight.

Kindest regards

26 August 2011

What I thought was to be a bumper whale season with my sighting on 02 July 2011 has since been pretty quiet. That was until now 26.08.2011 at 16:50. I happened to miss this one breach, but managed to catch him/her on camera at play August is typically a good month so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Best Regards Shane

1 July 2011

Another year has passed us and the whales are back again. I guess most of the activity is around the South Coast at present with the arrival of the sardines. I had my first sighting of a humpback this morning (02 July 2011) at around 08:00 just off La Mercy (quite far out). Also a small pocket of sardines just off backline. For those whale enthusiasts (keep your eyes open the season has arrived)…

Best regards Shane

29 November 2010

I thought I would note this one for the record, considering it is so late in the season. I saw a huge splash late yesterday, but could not confirm a whale sighting. Today, however at 10:30, two big Humpbacks are heading South (approximately 400 m off shore). It looks like we still have whales around. My last sighting to this one was on the 16th November 2010.


Best regards



19 September 2010

What an action packed weekend for whale sightings…Whales have been around all weekend (Fri – four sightings, Sat – at least twelve sightings, Sun – and it’s still early, four sightings). Visitors on the beachfront are marveled by these sightings and I had a few people come and chat to me about it. Most sightings have been humpbacks, but I did spot what could have been a Southern White Whale? Best time to keep an eye open is from 16:30, but there is a mother and calf that has been hanging around close to shore the entire morning. Plenty of breaching going on; both mother and calf. Whales seem to be heading South again, so if our visitors want to see them, now’s your opportunity.

Best Regards

12-20 August 2010

Humpbacks are definitely around. I have spotted them on the 12th, 17th and right now 20th .08.2010. Right now the calf is breaching the surface and the mother just chilling (heading North)…fantastic to watch (for all of u out there, time is late afternoon to early evening).

Best wishes

Yaay - we were also watching the whales Friday afternoon, with a great view from the Bush Tavern Deck. Julie

Thanks to Shane for the first whale sighting of the season. Keep watching. Julie

07 August 2010

My first whale sighting for this season (07 August 2010 – 14:45 to 15:30).  Humpback whale heading South past Tobago and settled offshore just of Camaraque. Although the typical signature of a mother feeding her calf (tail in the air). I did not spot a calf. Thereafter a spectacular display of breaching the surface and tail slapping for approximately 15 minutes.

Best wishes and hopefully many more sightings

11th August 2009 Terrific sightings from Tobago again (11 Aug -14:50). Two whales (different specie from others seen). These two whales are completely white underneath, what appears to be brown on top, with traces of white surrounding the entire top part of the body. Both were thrashing tails on top of the water. Very spectacular. Starting to feel like I’m filling your blog space. Need others to comment too. Shane

10th August 2009 - Not quite sure what the bait fish were that I saw this morning (sea gulls having a whale of a time), but the school must have been 200 to 300 m long (also heading south). Took a walk along the beach at about 08:30 and spotted the whales again. One whale a few hundred meters offshore in front of the Lazy Lizzard and another just off Pinnacle Rock.
Thanks Shane. The bait fish that you describe were almost certainly sardines. The sardine shoals are very late this year and have failed to beach along the South Coast like they usually do. Dubbed "The Greatest Shoal on Earth" these massive shoals of sardines visit our shores annually in June and July with the associated dolphins, sharks, gannets and gulls feeding off them. For more info visit the BBC science pages regards, Bob

10th August 2009 - 07:00 (10 August 2009) - As I type this email, I have seen yet another two whales passing by, heading south, just off Tobago. Looks like this is the time of morning for all of those whale watchers. Noticed a lot of sea gulls and bait fish around as well. Shane Haworth

9th August 2009 - 07:50 Whale breaching the surface, a few hundred meters off Pinnacle Rock (heading south). Leapt twice and disappeared thereafter. Top of tail black and white underneath. 08:25 (09 August 2009) School of dolphins ± 20 heading south. One of the dolphins was continuously smashing his/her tail on the surface of the water, with each cycle of motion? Terrific sightings and it looks like we will have another good year. Shane Haworth, Tobago, North Beach Road Umdloti

2nd August 2009 Hey guys, I saw a pod of what looked to be around 4-5 Humpback whales off the Umdloti Tidal pool on Sunday (from Cozumel). I think it was Humpbacks because of the frequent breeching. Awesome sight to behold and just need to invest in a decent camera to post some pics next time. In fact this has been about the 3rd sighting in around 6 weeks. Just wish I could be closer. My house mate, Sean actually first made out Sundays sighting. Dave Harvey, Sea Consortium, Sub-Sahara Africa Representative (Based in Durban, South Africa),, South African Office: +27 31 4600700, Blackberry: +27 71 6047081, Skype: seacondavid

2nd August 2009 - 09h30 Wow thar she blows!!! just off La Mercy Beach whilst we were enjoying a Sunday brunch from our home overlooking the, if only we were on the Bush Tavern "Whale Watchers Deck" we might have won the first whale of the month prize... but then again 9.30 am in The Bush Tavern? rather not!!! Julie Hallows

17th June 2009 Hi Guys, Just spotted a whale having a whale of a time (hee Hee) right in front of Cozumel, North Beach Road. Unfortunately I did not get a pic. Camera was at office. Not clever. But very excited to steal a few minutes to watch the awesome display. Have no idea what type of whale it was all I know is it was huge. The view from Tuscany was absolutely fabulous. Enjoy. Lynne Temlett

13th June 2009 Oh yes, we saw a whale about a week ago too! Hylton Creswell.

12th June 2009 Hiya Guys, Hooray saw my first whale of the season Friday afternoon. Always get so excited!!!! Sat on deck at the Bush having late lunch and spotted large and small blow straight out in front. Think it was feeding as it was there for nearly an hour and still there when we left around 3 ish. cheers, Jacs (Jacci Murison)
Did you claim your R100,00 from the Bush Tavern? - Bob

6th June 2009 PS: Spotted our first whale on Saturday +/- 15h30 swimming south. I was so excited I forgot to take a photo!! Embarrased poor old Rob from downstairs by singing a welcome to the whale (ala Nemo) instead. Sulla Smit
Interesting Sulla, the Humpback whales that visit us annually normally swim north in June and then back south with their calves from October onwards. Your sighting could have been a Southern Right whale which are seen all year round but far less frequently - well spotted!, Bob

25th January 2009 at around 17:00 a group of surfers including myself got the fright of our lives when a 4 meter whale shark cruised past us in the line up just south of the shops-we followed its' path down to the point with numerous people on the beach confirming the sighting before it disappeared south. Another delightful visitor for the past few months is a turtle that is hanging around the point at South Beach car park-I think it's the same guy but do not know too much about them(somebody said it's a greenback turtle) anyway the turtle seems to have made Umdloti its' home for now! Michael Ryan

16th December 2008 I don't believe it. Humpback whales are still here! A wonderful display all afternoon of breehes, splashes and a fluke sticking out of the water for ages. It really has been an incredible season with more whales spotted than ever before. Surely this must be the last and we'll see of them this season. They'll all be back in June 2009 again. Bob

26th October 2008 Having a whale of a time celebrating Diwali in La Mercy!!! The whales this year have been most spectacular virtually every day for weeks now. Each year they seem to put on a bigger show now that they know it is safe off La Mercy Beach. Thank God the Unilever whaling station in Durban was closed down in has taken over 40 years for these beautiful mammals to recover from human greed. John Govender

18th October 2008 from Milkwood Chalets....on Saturday afternoon we watched a whale cow teaching her calf how to jump out of the water. It was actually the first time that I've seen this – besides seeing it on nature programs. Leon and Erica Viljoen

15th October 2008Incredible pictures from Rory Barber with a whale and from Sarah Jones of Rory on his paddle ski with the whale. Check out the Sarah Jones gallery for more shots

14th, 15th and 16th October,What a magnificent sight! It was the first time we had seen whales, and what a display this whale put on! this particular whale put on a stunning display – tailing we were told, to apparently cool down. It stayed in one position for three days, tail on display! Richard de Sousa

14th October 2008 I have had sightings daily of the whales during the past three weeks. Mornings, approximately 06:00 and afternoons approximately, 17:00 (North Beach past the bathing area, roughly1 km off-shore). Mornings travelling North and afternoon travelling South. Two whales in particular. Would appear to be a mother and her calf. Maybe you can answer a question for me? Why would the mother drift vertically with the tail rising above the water? Shane Haworth

13th October 2008 East Coast Radio. Two humpback whales, each with a calf, have been spotted nurturing their young to the north of the Umdloti River Mouth just off La Mercy Beach. The Sharks Board’s Mike Anderson-Reed says it is a common sight at this time of the year because the mums prefer feeding in shallow waters as it is safer for their little ones. “They’ll do what all mommies do and look after their calves and just stick close inshore and then slowly, after the calves have fattened up, they’ll move slowly back down towards the Antarctic - arriving down there probably at the end of December. “We have probably about 7 000 humpback whales off our coast and it’s a pleasure to see them. I think people should go out there and enjoy it while they can.”
If you would like to catch a glimpse of the whales calving, Anderson-Reed says, “The best place to go at the moment will probably be along the lower La Mercy Road, along the beach there. They are very close inshore so they are very visible.”

14th October 2008, 10:30 Humpback whale frolics cause a commotion By Heinz de Boer of The Pretoria News
Migrating humpback whales frolicking off Durban and the coast are causing a stir among motorists and seaside revellers who are being treated to spectacular viewings. A small pod of humpback whales doing "headstands" and flicking their fins in the air near La Mercy on the north coast on Tuesday morning caused a commotion, as dozens of motorists pulled off the road to take photographs. First spotted swimming in tandem with about 15 dolphins, one of the whales suddenly dived down and lifted its massive rear fins, or flukes, into the air. The sudden manoeuvre and it remaining in the head-down position for about five minutes sparked a flurry of calls to the Natal Sharks Board. But Sharks Board spokesperson Mike Anderson-Reid said the spectacular headstand was common behaviour for these whales, which are now migrating to Cape waters after having swum into the Mozambique Channel earlier in 2008. And with an estimated 6 500 humpback whales in South African waters, chances are that whale watchers will get even better sightings until the end of November. "It is a very busy time of year for whales when they again start migrating southward," Anderson-Reid said. Humpback whale populations were almost wiped out before a ban on whaling in 1964, because of their natural tendency to remain close inshore. The humpback is one of the best-observed species of whale and is easily recognised by its distinctive hump just below its dorsal fin. Whale pods are often spotted when individuals burst out of the water, creating huge splashes. Southern right whales, which are not encountered as frequently as humpbacks, are also in local waters at the moment, and often venture extremely close inshore.

10th September 2008 Absolutely fantastic! Two humpback whales jumping right out of the water. I've seen plenty of whales off Nova Scotia but never anything like this...awesome and unbelievable. Gill Goddard, London, U.K.

6th June 2008 First Whale of the season! Spotted from La Mercy a humpback whale frolicking just beyond the breakers. Welcome back!!!....early this year too. We have also heard that the Sardines are on their way, spotted off the Transkei Coast and heading North. Could be off Margate by mid June!

15th October 2007

What a display witnessed from our house in La Mercy – whales everywhere, at least three pods all frolicking, breaching and blowing. A magnificent school of Dolphins too. Julie and Bob

14th October 2007

Our first whale sighting from our apartment in the Tahiti complex on North Beach Road, opposite the circle – wonderful! Pierre and Sulla

13th October 2007

At least two whales seen close in from Beach Bums restaurant, whilst we were enjoying a family birthday lunch. Frank and Jenny (from Umhlanga)

3rd September 2007

Two humpbacks spent a couple of hours this morning off of South Beach diving and breaching – came quite close to shore – perhaps 200 meters. Michael L. Bennish, MD - Executive Director Mpilonhle (A Good Life) 

13th August 2007

Hi guys, if people are not spotting all the whales lately, then they are not looking. We are spotting them on a daily basis now. Today an awesome sighting of mother and calf just behind the white water about 100m off shore. The dolphins have also been seen on a daily basis. Dion Bezuidenhout Drifters Dolphin Coast Inn 


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