Investigating kelp gull attacks on southern right whales – An update from Bottazzi Whale Watching

Home » News » Investigating kelp gull attacks on southern right whales – An update from Bottazzi Whale Watching

Spreading awareness of their conservation work

Bottazzi Whale Watching continues to collaborate with and support the NGO Protejamos Patagonia, started by Romina Bottazzi. The NGO aims to promote the conservation of Patagonian wildlife through sustainable tourism and land management in the Patagonian region. Last week, the UPROAR, another conservation-focused NGO, featured Romina and both her whale watching and conservation work on a live Instagram feed. During the live video, Romina explained the history of whale watching in Patagonia, conservation challenges, and their conservation work in the region. Standing along the Patagonian coast, viewers were also able to participate in virtual whale watching – keeping an eye out for any recently arrived Southern Right Whales in the background. 

WCA Individual partners join Bottazzi Whale Watch to support their conservation work

Last year, Bottazzi Whale Watch hosted two WCA Individual partners, Rodrigo A. Martinez Catalan and Ewa Malinowska, as volunteers who also supported their conservation work. The Peninsula Valdes is one of the only places in the world where kelp gulls regularly attack southern right whales and feed on their blubber. At the same time, mortality of young southern right whales is on the rise, with no concrete defined cause. However, these gull attacks, which tend to predominantly target young calves September through December, undoubtedly cause additional stress to the southern right whales. 

The volunteers Ewa and Rodrigo collected data during whale watching trips on the frequency of gull attacks on the southern right whales. The data included information on the frequency and types of gull attacks, as well as the location. While researchers have collected some data on these attacks, this initiative will be one of the first and only ongoing efforts to quantify the severity of these attacks. The results can support local initiatives to reduce the frequency of the attacks, such as improved coastal waste management and kelp gull population control.

Check out the brilliant work of Bottazzi Whale Watching and Protejamos Patagonia

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