Southern right whale

The Southern right whale, like the other species in its genus, was hunted incredibly close to extinction. As a wide ranging species, when the population fell possibly as low as 300 in 1920 – so this species was saved by its low numbers, not the ban on hunting in 1935, which likely would have come too late.

It should be noted that Russia ignored this role until 1970. During these 35 years, many were killed by Russia, and when I say many, we are talking hundreds of thousands of species that everyone else was trying to save.

The population is now thought to be around 13,600, which is an impressive increase in around 100 years, of around 45 times increase. The historical population is estimated to lie between 55,000 and 70,000.

So where can they be watched? Far and away, the best known place to see them is Hermanus in South Africa, where around 100 whales congregate each year. I have seen them here, and it is a relatively easy species to see if you are in the right place. They are found from around around 20 degrees South to 65 degrees South around the world. In the past New Zealand was a fantastic place to watch them, and in recent years they returned for the first time in 80 years. They are also naturally seen in big numbers around Australia, and places like Patagonia.

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