The annual Southern Hemisphere humpback whale migration is something quite impressive. These animals swim extremely long distances from their feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean, to the nearest land masses, to calf and mate in the warmer waters. In South Africa they are recorded near to land close to the southern tip of Africa, as early as late April. This year WCA Partner Raggy Charters, had the first humpbacks coming past Algoa Bay in late May. From here they head up past Durban, Mozambique, Tanzania and eventually Kenya.
The WCA has been assisting operators all the way along the East African Coast in order to get a Facebook page up and running. This way we can all share our sightings and photo identification. Whale festivals were held in Port Elizabeth and Durban and our friends in Watamu Kenya ran a very good campaign around the arrival of these magnificent creatures. We are hoping to hold more festivals next year and get the East Coast humpback migration tourist route off the ground.
This northern migration tailed off at the end of August and on the 6th September the first humpbacks moving in a westerly direction past Algoa Bay were reported. This increased over the next few weeks and the southern migration is now well under way. At this stage it looks as if it is only the males that are coming past. We think they are males due to their large group size, faster swimming speed and boisterous activity. Having done the boys thing with the girls, the only thing on their minds now is probably a good feed! It will be interesting to see when the last pregnant females pass the bay, followed by cow / calf pairs who always bring up the rear. During the last three seasons the last humpbacks came past Algoa Bay by the first week in December. In the previous 17 seasons they past Algoa Bay only by the first week in January, a whole month later. One wonders if global warming is having an impact on their food production and distribution?
The following photos were all taken in Algoa Bay. If anyone has photos of humpbacks with well known landmarks in the background, we would love to use them for our migration route displays. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.