The Namibian Dolphin Project | Southern Right Whale

Species Profiles

Southern Right Whale, Eubalaena australis

Southern right whales are still rare within Namibia but as the African population increases we expect to see more and more in Namibian waters as their range expands.

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Southern right whales were the first of the large whales to be hunted, the first to be overfished almost to extinction and the first to be afforded in legal protection. The southern right whale can be found wintering off the coasts of South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and heading south in the summer months to feed in Antarctic waters.

All the populations are showing strong signs of recovery.  In southern Africa, the population was depleted to as low as 10’s of individuals in the early part of the 20th century but our best estimates now put the population in the region of 4000 animals and has been increasing at about 7% per year since monitoring in South Africa first started in 1969!

As the population increases, it is slowly starting to repopulate its old range and habitat.  Walvis Bay (”Whale Bay”) was named that due to the large number of southern right whales which could be found resting and calving there during the winter months. Unfortunately, only a few years of intensive whaling activities knocked the population out. Hundreds of years later and there are still hardly any right whales here.  However, sightings within Namibia have been increasing over the last decade. Our colleague Dr Jean Paul Roux of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has run coastal aerial surveys since 2000 and noted an increase in the numbers of right whales along the Namibian coast.  Most of these animals are still only to the found in the very south of the country (south of Luderitz), but they are venturing further north all the time and we hope that they will become a regular sight again in Walvis Bay in the near future.