Preliminary 2022 surveys indicate that the number of southern right whales between Hermanus and Witsand is better than in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Southern right whale and calf
Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit early morning departure
Fieldwork by boat, studying southern right whales
Number of females with calves (CC) and unaccompanied adults (UA) counted on the annual aerial surveys between 1979 and 2021.
After the survey, the collected photographs and associated data will be analysed. The best images of each individual will be selected from each encounter and compared to all other selected images from this survey to search for within-year duplicates, as well as to the Whale Unit’s catalogue of identification photographs of just over 2,600 recognisable adults from the previous 42 annual surveys. Sorting of images is initially done using a computer-assisted image recognition system, followed by final matching of the whales by eye. These analyses allow for sighting histories of known individuals to be compiled and a subsequent investigation of individual movement and distribution patterns as well as the reproductive / calving histories of females. These data will then be used to further investigate the vital parameters of the population, including abundance estimation, population growth rate, survival, calving intervals, and age at first parturition (age at when a female has her first calf), which allows researchers to accurately model the population demographic parameters over the long term.