The De Hoop Collection, in the Western Cape, is happy to announce that the first aerial survey of the 2019 whale season is in – and of the total whales seen, over 90% of them were at De Hoop.
Jean Tresfon, a Marine Conservation photographer and pilot of the aerial survey done by the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit confirmed the news.
Tresfon reported that, “although below the number expected for this time of the year, a total of 288 Southern Right whales were counted, 131 females with calves and 26 adults without calves. Nearly all females with calves were located in the De Hoop Nature Reserve.”
Last year Tresfon was blown away by the sightings of the Southern Right whales at De Hoop Nature Reserve area – from Skipskop Point to Lekkerwater – where a record-breaking 1 116 whales (558 cow/calf pairs) had been spotted. This confirmed that Koppie Alleen in De Hoop is the most important nursery area for these whales on the South African coast.
Of the 2018 total of about 1 400 Southern Right whales that were counted, approximately 200 were not in the De Hoop area. With the current count being below the number expected for this time of year, and less than last year, it is most likely due to the fact that the reproduction of the whales is not back at normal levels, perhaps due to non-optimal conditions in their feeding grounds.
The next aerial survey will be done in a few weeks’ time.