WCA Partner Raggy Charters are noticing a lack of southern right whales in Algoa Bay for the time of the year. During July and August 2018 they were sighting good numbers of both humpback and southern right whales along the coastal section of Algoa Bay from Cape Recife Lighthouse, all the way to Sundays River mouth and beyond. This year to date, they only seen three southern rights in Algoa Bay, none of which have stayed around. One particular individual was sighted very early at the beginning of April.
The abnormality of the timings and nature of these three sightings together with the lack of southern rights arriving in the Bay is concerning and gives rise to a number of questions. In the past there have been years where few southern rights have arrived in the Bay. But is it natural for numbers to fluctuate like this or are the whales choosing to travel or migrate to different locations and why?
One theory is that the increase in acoustic pollution in Algoa Bay resulting from the commencement of offshore fuel bunkering operations could be a deterrent for the whales. Something that would be very difficult to prove. From what Raggy Charters can gather it is not only Algoa Bay that is experiencing a decrease in the number of southern rights this season. This leads them to believe that the problem might not be in these waters but rather in their feeding grounds. It will be interesting to see if the southern rights are just late to arrive and what next year’s season will be like.