Brief Note

Whale observations from the Knysna Heads, 1903–1906

Published in: South African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 17, issue 1, 1996, pages: 305–308
DOI: 10.2989/025776196784158626

Abstract

Sightings of 912 whales made by the pilot(s) at the Knysna Heads on the southern coast of South Africa between 1903 and 1906 provide information on the relative numbers of right whales Eubalaena australis and humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae before the onset of modem whaling. Very few right whales were recorded, but several hundred humpback whales are estimated to have migrated past Knysna each year, first eastwards and then (from August) westwards, indicating that the whales were linked to a breeding population on the east rather than the west coast of Africa. A land station that opened near Knysna in 1913 took only 16 humpback whales in its second year of operation, demonstrating the extent of the depletion of this species that must have occurred following the onset of modem whaling on the African coast in 1908.

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