Beach Hut Whale Bones – Cape Town, South Africa - Atlas Obscura

Beach Hut Whale Bones

This arch made out of whale bones is a remnant of South Africa's whaling history. 


Whaling was an important aspect of life in Cape Town between the 18th and 20th centuries. Whales were hunted for their oil, which was used as a source of fuel, their meat, and their bones. Over time, hunting led to a massive decrease in the population of whales in the waters. South Africa banned whaling in 1979, but you can still see remnants of the once-dominant industry in Cape Town. 

This house close to the Boulders Beach Penguin Sanctuary is decorated with the jaws of a southern right whale, as it has been since 1898. The bones that currently stand at the gate were placed there more recently, and came from a whale corpse that washed ashore in 2015. Fragments of the original jaw bones remain, along with several other whale bones, including a vertebra.

Southern right whales were hunted to near-extinction, but their population has started to recover in recent decades. These massive baleen whales can typically be seen off the coast of South Africa starting in early June, and migrate to their feeding grounds near Antarctica in the fall.

Know Before You Go

The jaws are freely accessible, but please buy something in the shop or leave a tip of you take pictures with it. This is not a very affluent neighborhood.

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April 30, 2024

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