In winter (from June to the end of September), the sea around Sainte Marie, on the Eastern shore of Madagascar, offers one of the most natural fascinating spectacles in the world. Large groups of humpback whales (Megaptera) make their annual migration from the Antarctic to the sheltered waters around Ile Ste Marie where they calve, nurse their young and engage in their spectacular courtship rituals between the end of June and September. In winter, humpback whales stay and eat in cold seas. At the beginning of spring, after the birth of their calves, they move to tropical seas in order to mate close to the coasts. They will stay there up to the end of summer and start their way back to cold seas and abundant food. These creatures can grow up to 15m in length and weigh 45 tons, yet they seem incredibly gentle and peaceful as they slip smoothly through the waters. Mothers swim close to their new-born children, shepherding them through ther first migration.
|© Picture courtesy of Megaptera|
For months, humpback whales can be seen wondering in the ocean as they move and jump out of the sea in the narrow canal that separates the island from the mainland. You can see them everywhere from the island but the best way to see is going aboard a fast motor launch with a whale watching specialist. The reputable hotels as well as some operators on Ile Ste Marie arrange whale watching tours that adhere to the regulations to avoiding stressing the whales. Sometimes you are invited to collect data about the behaviour, whale songs, diving length, location, etc. for the world data base. Serious operators are members of the association “Megaptera”. Prices from 25 € per participant.
In Nosy Be it is also possible to see whales, dolphins and dive together with whale sharks. You find further information, trips and prices here: www.baleinesrandeau.com
Whales can be also spotted in Maroantsetra, where whale watching trips can be organised at a higher expense than in Sainte Marie due to the less demand.
Whales can also be spotted on their way to the birthing grounds in the Comore islands and Mayotte Island from Ifaty on the Southwestern coast.