Walker Bay is home to one of the largest seasonal aggregations of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), making it an ideal area to conduct research on the spatio-temporal behaviour of this iconic species. In 2012, SASC and Southern Right Charters  - a local whale watching eco-tourism company - partnered to develop a dedicated research project focused on the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) of the Bay. Our research group has recently partnered with Sea Search - a collective of scientists and students with a strong academic background in marine mammal science - to share our data and improve conservation and management of megafauna along the South African coast.

Research Aims

This project uses platform of opportunity monitoring to study whales and dolphins in Walker Bay. Research aims include:

  • determine if the seasonal aggregation of southern right whales impacts great white shark occurrence;
  • quantify how predation risk impacts the behaviour of cetaceans;
  • create a long-term database of individual cetacean sightings through photo-identification;
  • study site fidelity, habitat use, behaviour and population dynamics of cetaceans;
  • incorporate a holistic multi-species approach to further understanding of the ecology and conservation priorities of Walker Bay.

Research Techiniques

This is a multi-pronged research project, incorporating data from multiple projects. Primary techniques employed include: platform of opportunity behavioural monitoring, drone surveys, photo identification, and environmental monitoring.