With the South-East monsoon in full swing in the Seychelles, activities such as boating, charter fishing, diving and snorkeling are not quite favorable for the tourists wanting to experience the best that Seychelles has to offer. On the other hand, the windy season also brings with it humpback whales.
The Humpback whales make their long and arduous annual migration from the cold Southern Waters of the Antarctic, which is also their winter feeding grounds, to the warm waters around the equator. Interestingly, humpback whales show high site fidelity, and Seychelles is lucky to be one of these common spots which they frequent. The humpback whales come to the tropics to give birth. There are many theories for their northward migration but still remains inconclusive to researchers. One hypothesis suggests that they use the tropics as refuge from killer whale predation of their calves. Another is that the calves benefit from thermoregulation being in warmer waters.
Normally, most sightings of humpbacks around the Seychelles occur around the Aldabra atoll and the Outer islands. The Aldabra team has had 23 sightings in July alone with the whales seen to be moving northwards. The team took advantage of a rare calm Sunday to dive along an adult female and her calf. They described the experience as overwhelming, thrilling and quite emotional.
Although one will need to venture to the Outer Islands of Seychelles for the best chance of witnessing these gentle giants, locals and visitors on Cerf Island had an unexpected encounter recently. They were lucky enough to see a humpback swimming between St. Anne island and Mahe island, only a mere 100 meters from shore. The whale was then seen passing Ile Cachée before it headed out to the open sea just before the airport on Mahe. This is indeed a rare occurrence, and it remains a mystery as to why the whale came so close.
Humpback whales are not the only giants that use Seychelles as a hub during the South-East Monsoon. The windy season also brings with it whale sharks. Seeing a whale shark, or even swimming with one, remains one of the most ultimate bucket list experiences by travelers. There are only a handful of destinations around the world where in-season sightings of whale sharks are almost guaranteed, and Seychelles remains one of these destinations.
In fact some of the earliest scientific whale shark records came from the Seychelles. Whale sharks can be seen throughout the Inner Seychelles Islands from July right till the end of October, with common occurrences around Cocos Marine National Park, Curieuse Island, Baie Ternay Marine National Park etc. Although most of the sightings occur off the southern tip of Mahe Island.
Photo credit: Anna Marzocchi