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The Cape Peninsula - False Bay and Cape Hangklip


Overview of False Bay with Cape Hangklip marking the transition to the Atlantic Ocean. Bartolomeu Dias, the Portuguese explorer, in 1488 first referred to the bay as "the gulf between the mountains". Sailors returning from the east initially confused this bay with Table Bay near Kaapstad because they confounded Cape Point and Cape Hangklip, which are somewhat similar in form. They thus sailed into the wrong bay. Hence the Portuguese called this point Cabo Falso or False Cape. Sailors returning from the Dutch East Indies similarly called it Valskaap, and the bay Valsbaai, Dutch for False Bay. Cape Hangklip (east) and Cape Point (west) are about 32 km apart.

False Bay is known for it's population of White Sharks. A shark watch service that operates from Muizenberg (which is located to the left of this picture), signals alerts when sharks come too near bathers and surfers. Southern right whales are the most frequently seen whales within False Bay. Southern right whales whales use the coastal waters of the south western Cape coast, including False Bay, as calving, nursery and mating grounds; they may be seen just meters from the shore. The whales start arriving in the bay at the end of May and remain in the region up until the end of November before departing for their feeding grounds in the lower reaches of the Antarctic. Peak month is October.

Other whales that can be seen within False Bay (although less frequently than southern right whales) include Bryde's whales, humpback whales and killer whales. Dolphin species in the region include bottlenose dolphins on the east side and dusky dolphins on the west side.

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