A southern right whale that was tagged off the coast of South Africa in Walker Bay on 12 October 2021, has crossed the South Atlantic Ocean to Argentina, the first time such a journey has been recorded.
According to the Whale Unit at the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute, one of the four southern right whales the unit tagged in Walker Bay last year crossed the Atlantic with its calf on a journey spanning well over 10 000km.
The tag stopped transmitting on 14 December 2021 but came back online on 20 April 2022 off the Patagonian Shelf.
These tags were deployed as a pilot study to investigate whales’ migration and feeding behaviour. Research of this kind ‘is of paramount importance when considering the drastic changes that have been observed in southern right whale migration, reproduction, and body condition in the last 10 years’, the Whale Unit said.
‘These changes are likely explained by a reduced prey availability in the Southern Ocean due to climate change.’
The tags will provide the unit with information for up to a year, and with plans to deploy 30 more over the next 30 years, it hopes to conduct much more vital research on these creatures.
You can follow the four tagged whales live on the Whale Unit’s website here.