Platinum Rhino, the worlds largest captive rhino breeding operation sold to africaparksnetwork! (update, instagram embed did not work)

Hearing this news, one might think “great, another 10-20 rhino”? Think again.

Platinum rhino holds as much as 15% of the current wild population in its operation -2000 individuals. Here is an instagram on the news!

This could be great! Current rhino numbers are estimated to be in the low 2000, down 79% since 2011. Releasing the whole herd back into the Kruger could allow numbers a sizable boost, and rapidly move the kruger back towards its former stronghold of the white rhino. However, in the first half of 2023 over 200 rhino were poached from the Kruger, suggesting that this is not going to be easy.

Unfortunately, the Kruger is already one of the best preserved large reserves in the world. Thankfully, rhino horn has dropped in value from its peak in 2012 of $65,000 per kg, down to a current $8000 per kg. It would be good to depress this further, however the risks for the poacher are very high: not only are many poachers killed by the rhino, they are also often killed by other wildlife such as lions – and the Kruger has a sizable number of man-eating specialists.

I suspect the organization will spread the rhino around, across many of their reserves. Hopefully the recognition that farms like this make no sense, will allow them to thrive back in the wild.

Education is still needed in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. Rhino horn is the same substance as your finger-nails, Keratin. Consuming it will make no difference to any medical condition, science has tried to show any positive health benefit, and can see nothing scientific – at best a placebo effect.

Below, is a video about this farm, 6 years ago back in its heyday. Hopefully, all these rhino can recover white rhino populations far and wide.

Flamingo and Grebe Species

Flamingoes and Grebes

At the top of the page is an image of every species of flamingo, below you will find some information on each species. Below this, you will find the same for the grebes.

As always, should you work in tourism or conservation of any of these species, do get in touch, we are keen to help people find you. Click on list your wild place on the homepage main menu.

American Flamingo

Found in the West Indies, northern South America (including the Galápagos Islands) and the Yucatan Peninsula. It was considered cospecifc with the greater flamingo, but they are now recognized as separate species (it is also closely related to the Chilean flamingo). 

Formerly it was a culture icon in Southern Florida, but was largely extirpated by 1900. Having said this, there are vagrant flamingos in Florida, and these now often stay in the country worldwide.

There are 80,000-90,000 left in the wild, and there are 4 breeding colonies: in South America (in the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador, coastal Colombia and Venezuela, and northern Brazil), in the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), The Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), and tropical and subtropical areas of continental North America (along the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, and formerly southern Florida in the United States).

Andean Flamingo

Found in the Andes mountains of South America, it is in the same genus as the James Flamingo. Indeed, the Chilean Andea and James flamingo often share nesting sites and are relatively closely related.

It is considered vulnerable to extinction with roughly 34,000 remaining in the wild, but declining over time.

As with other flamingos they are filter feeders, though what they filter can vary from algae to small fish – which they look for in shallow salty water.

They migrate between salt lakes in the summer and lower wetlands in winter – with the capacity of covering 700 miles a day.

The threat that this species faces, is generally due to human activity of mining and other changes to their habitat.

Chilean Flamingo

Closely related to the American and greater flamingo, it is listed as near threatened in the wild with a wild population of about 200,000. Population declines are due to habitat loss and degradation, harvesting and human disturbance.

While they are only currently listed as near threatened, there is a great deal of concern about falling populations, and as such they are relatively common in zoos and there is an active breeding program..

 

Greater Flamingo

The greaterflamingo has the greatest of ranges of any species (as you can see from the map. While it is found down the East coast of Africa, it is also found on the northwest coast and the northern coast. It is also present in the middle east, and throughout much of Sothern Europe. Its range also extends into India. It is listed as least concern with a population between 550,000 and 680,000 with between 45,000 and 125,000 living in Europe – the Camargue is the most famous in Southern France

They are listed as least concern

 

James Flamingo

The James flamingo is also found on the high Andean plateau, and is closely related to the Andean Flamingo. It was thought extinct until a population was rediscovered in 1956, and the current population is thought to be around 106,000.

It is currently listed as near threatened, and on CITES appendix 2.

Lesser Flamingo

Found in Sub-Saharan Africa and India. While the smallest species, it still stands 80-90cm tall. The easiest way to tell this and the greater flamingo (with overlapping range) apart is that the greater flamingo has more black on its bill.

Estimates on the number of this species range from “above” 2 million to as much as 5 million.

They generally breed in highly caustic lakes of the great rift valley in Africa, though there are places in India and a few other places as well.

They are classed as near threatened. While their choice of nesting site protects from many predators, it is still true that many flamingos are killed. From fish eagles to baboons and big cats, there are many species who will eat a flamingo if they can get hold of it.

It is well worth seeing this animal in the wild. Seeing 750,000 lesser flamingos on lake nakuru in kenya is a site that is hard to forget.

Visits to see flamingos are well worth it, and while some live in remote places, it is usually a species which is reliable. Please get in touch if you work in tourism or conservation of this species. Click on list your wild place on the home page of the website.

Next the Grebes

While some sites claim 22 species, my list has found that some of these were extinct (indeed, according to my list there were 3 species that have gone extinct. If there are any experts out there who notice one missing, let me know

We are eager as always to help people find places to see these birds. Do let me know if you work in wildlife tourism or run a place to stay where these birds are regularly seen. Click on list your wild place on the front page of the website.

The end of Whaling in Iceland, end of an era, or sensible financial move

Whaling went on for centuries, in many parts of the world. One of these was Iceland, where due to the latitude, it is often hard to grow much food. Iceland did not end whaling when it was banned by the international community, and since then have hunted and killed around 1800. They returned to hunting fin whales last year, but what is clear, is that not only do the Icelandic people not want to eat the whale meat, but there is little hunger for it elsewhere in the world. Indeed, whaling is incredibly expensive, and has only stayed afloat through government support.

Whales are essential to the worlds oceans, both through their fertilization through their waste, and the vast amounts of carbon that they sequester over their lives. For the foreseeable time we need every living whale we can have, in the fight against the damage which humans are doing to the planet.

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner dolphin

The spinner dolphin (also known as the long-snouted dolphin (distinguishing it from the Clymene dolphin – which is often called the short snouthed spinner dolphin) is a small dolphin found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is famous for its spinning  along its length, as it leaps from the water. It is a member of the family Delphinidae of toothed whales.

The four named subspecies are:

  • Eastern spinner dolphin, found from the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Central American or Costa Rican spinner dolphin, also found in the tropical eastern Pacific.
  • Gray’s or Hawaiian spinner dolphin, from the central Pacific Ocean around Hawaii but represents a mixture of broadly similar subtypes found worldwide.
  • Dwarf spinner dolphin, first found in the Gulf of Thailand.

The species, though, displays greater variety than these subspecies might indicate. A hybrid form characterized by its white belly inhabits the eastern Pacific. Other less distinct groupings inhabit other oceans.The species name comes from the Latin word for “long-beaked.”

Spinner dolphins are small cetaceans with a slim build. Adults are 129–235 cm long and weigh 23–79 kg. This species has an elongated rostrum and a triangular or subtriangular dorsal fin. Spinner dolphins generally have three colours, one on the dorsal fin, one on the underside and one on the upper-side. Also, a dark band runs from the eye to the flipper, bordered above by a thin, light line. However, the spinner dolphin has more geographic variation in form and coloration than other cetaceans. In the open waters of eastern Pacific, dolphins have relatively small skulls with short rostra. A dwarf form of spinner dolphin occurs around southeast Asia. In these same subspecies, a dark dorsal cape dims their tripartite colour patterns Further offshore, subspecies tend to have a paler and less far-reaching cape.] In certain subspecies, some males may have upright fins that slant forward.[8] Some populations of spinner dolphin found in the eastern Pacific have backwards-facing dorsal fins, and males can have dorsal humps and upturned caudal flukes.

The spinner dolphin lives in nearly all tropical and subtropical waters between 40°N and 40°S. The species primarily inhabits coastal waters, islands, or banks. However, in the eastern tropical Pacific, spinner dolphins live far from shore. Some studies suggest they use different areas at different times of the year.

The spinner dolphin feeds mainly on small mesopelagic fish, squids, and sergestid shrimps, and will dive 200–300 m to feed on them. Spinner dolphins of Hawaii are nocturnal feeders and forage in deep scattering layers, which contain many species. The dwarf spinner dolphin may feed mostly on benthic fish in reefs and shallow water. Off Oahu, Hawaii, spinner dolphins forage at night and cooperatively herd their prey into highly dense patches. They swim around the prey in a circle and a pair may swim through the circle to make a catch. Spinner dolphins are in turn preyed on by sharks. Other possible predators include the killer whale, the false killer whale, the pygmy killer whale and the short-finned pilot whale. They are susceptible to parasites, and are known to exhibit both external ones like barnacles and remoras as well as internal parasites.


Due to the spinner dolphin foraging and feeding at night, in certain regions, such as Hawaii and northern Brazil, dolphins spend the daytime resting in shallow bays near deep water. Spinner dolphins rest as a single unit, moving back and forth slowly in a tight formation but just out of contact with one another. These resting behaviours are observed for about four to five hours daily. During rest periods, spinner dolphins rely on vision rather than echolocation. At dusk, they travel offshore to feed. They travel along the shore during foraging trips, and the individuals that occupy the same bay may change daily. Some individual dolphins do not always go to a bay to rest; however, in Hawaii, dolphins do seem to return to the same site each trip.

Spinner dolphins live in an open and loose social organization. The spinner dolphins of Hawaii live in family groups, but also have associations with others beyond their groups. Mothers and calves form strong social bonds. Spinner dolphins seem to have a promiscuous mating system, with individuals changing partners for up to some weeks. A dozen adult males may gather into coalitions. Vocalizations of spinner dolphins include whistles, which may be used to organize the school, burst-pulse signals, and echolocation clicks. The spinner dolphin has a 10-month gestation period, and mothers nurse their young for one to two years. Females are sexually mature at four to seven years, with three-year calving intervals, while males are sexually mature at seven to 10 years. Spinner dolphins live for about 20-25 years old. Breeding is seasonal, more so in certain regions than others.

Although most spinner dolphins are found in the deeper waters offshore of the islands, the rest of the Hawaiʻi population has a more coastal distribution. During daytime hours, the island-associated stocks of Hawaiian spinner dolphins seek sanctuary in nearshore waters, where they return to certain areas to socialize, rest, and nurture their young.

They get their name for their spinning jumps, a spinner dolphin comes out of the water front first and twists its body as it rises into the air. When it reaches its maximum height, the dolphin descends back into the water, landing on its side. A dolphin can make two to seven spins in one leap; the swimming and rotational speed of the dolphin as it spins underwater affects the number of spins it can do while airborne. These spins may serve several functions. Some of these functions are believed by experts to be acoustic signalling or communication. Another reason is to remove ectoparasites such as remoras. Dolphins may also make nose-outs, tail slaps, flips, head slaps, “salmon leaps”, and side and back slaps.

The protected status of spinner dolphins are CITES Appendix II and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protected throughout its range as well as MMPA depleted in its eastern stock. Tens of thousands of spinner dolphins, mostly eastern and white-bellied varieties, were killed in the 30 years after purse seine fishing for tuna began in the 1950s; The process killed probably half of all eastern spinner dolphins. They have also been contaminated by pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. Spinner dolphins, as with other species affected by ETP tuna purse-seine fishing, are managed nationally by the coastal countries and internationally by the IATTC. The IATTC has imposed annual stock mortality limits on each purse seine and promulgated regulations regarding the safe release of dolphins. The eastern tropical Pacific and Southeast Asian populations of the spinner dolphin are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), since they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements. In addition, the spinner dolphin is covered by Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU). Spinner dolphins are susceptible to disease and two of the recorded diseases within them are toxoplasmosis and cetacean morbillivirus. The number of cases reported however is fairly low in the species.

Spinner dolphins in Hawaii receive multiple daily visits to their near-shore resting grounds, with boats taking people out daily to snorkel and interact with the local dolphin population. Such activities are increasingly coming under criticism on the grounds of possible harm to the dolphins, and efforts are being made both to educate the public in order to minimise human impact on the dolphins, and to bring in regulations to govern these activities. In 2023, 33 swimmers were arrested for reportedly harassing dolphins off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The swimmers reportedly broke federal law by swimming within 45 meters (50 yards) of the dolphins. The ban went into effect in 2021 due to dolphins not getting enough rest during the day to forage for food at night. The swimmers were caught by drone footage pursuing the dolphins as they tried to escape.

We are eager to work with people who run boats to see these animals – provided they are run with due care for the animals. Do get in touch, or fill in a form you will find in ‘List your wild place’ at the top of the page (or click here).

Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is a species of Bottlenose dolphin. This dolphin grows to 2.6 m long, and weighs up to 230 kg . It lives in the waters around northern Australia , South China, the Red Sea, and the eastern coast of Africa. Its back is dark grey and its underside is lighter grey or nearly white with grey spots. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is usually smaller than the Common bottlenose dolphin, has a proportionately longer Rostrum, and has spots on its belly and lower sides. It also has more teeth than the common bottlenose dolphin — 23 to 29 teeth on each side of each jaw compared to 21 to 24 for the common bottlenose dolphin.

Much of the old scientific data in the field combine data about the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin into a single group, making it effectively useless in determining the structural differences between the two species. The IUCN lists the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin as “near threatened” in their Red List of endangered species.

Until 1998, all bottlenose dolphins were considered members of the single species Tursiops truncatus. In that year, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was recognized as a separate species. Both species are thought to have split during the mid-Pleistocene, about 1 million years ago. Some evidence shows the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin may actually be more closely related to certain dolphin species in the Delphinus (genus), especially the “Atlantic spotted dolphin”, than it is to the common bottlenose dolphin. However, more recent studies indicate that this is a consequence of reticulate evolution (such as past hybridization between Stenella and ancestral Tursiops and incomplete lineage sorting, and thus support truncatus and T. aduncus belonging to the same genus. Burrunan dolphin T. (aduncus) australis has been alternately considered its own species, a subspecies of T. truncatus, or a subspecies of T. aduncus. Following the results of a 2020 study, the American Society of Mammologists presently classifies it as a subspecies of T. aduncus. The same study delineated 3 distinct lineages within T. aduncus which could each be their own subspecies: an Indian Ocean lineage, an Australasian lineage, and the Burrunan dolphin. The Society for Marine Mammalogy does not recognize the Burrunan dolphin as a distinct species or subspecies, citing the need for further research. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are very similar to common bottlenose dolphins in appearance. Common bottlenose dolphins have a reasonably strong body, moderate-length beak, and tall, curved dorsal fins; whereas Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have a more slender body build and their beak is longer and more slender. 

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins feed on a wide variety of fish Cephalopod, Squid, researchers looked at the feeding ecology of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins by analysing the stomach contents of ones that got caught in the gillnet fisheries off Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins live in groups that can number in the hundreds, but groups of five to 15 dolphins are most common. 

In some parts of their range, they spend time with the common bottlenose dolphin and other dolphin species, such as the humpback dolphin. The peak mating and calving seasons are in the spring and summer, although mating and calving occur throughout the year in some regions. Gestation period is about 12 months. Calves are between 0.84 and 1.5 Meters, and weigh between 9 and 21kg. The calves are weaned between 1.5 and 2.0 years, but can remain with their mothers for up to 5 years, some mothers will give birth again, shortly before the 5 years are up. 

In some parts of its range, this dolphin is subject to predation by sharks. 

Its lifespan is more than 40 years. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins located in Shark Bay, Australia, have been observed using sponges as tools in a practice called “sponging”. A dolphin breaks a marine sponge off the sea floor and wears it over its rostrum, apparently to probe substrates for fish, possibly as a tool. Spontaneous ejaculation in an aquatic mammal was recorded in a wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin near Mikura Island, Japan, in 2012. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have been observed to swim near and rub themselves against specific types of corals and sponges. A team of scientists followed up on this behaviour and discovered metabolites with antibacterial, antioxidative, and hormonal activities in the corals and sponges, suggesting that they might be used by the dolphins to treat skin infections. its near-shore distribution, though, makes it vulnerable to environmental degradation, direct exploitation, and problems associated with local fisheries. 

The major predators of this species are typically sharks, and may include humans, killer whales, and sting rays. In the early 1980s, many were deliberately killed in a Taiwanese driftnet fishery in the Arafura Sea, off north western Australia. Large-mesh nets set to protect bathers from sharks in South Africa and Australia have also resulted in a substantial number of deaths. Gillnets are also having an impact, and are a problem throughout most of the species’ range.

These small cetaceans are commonly found in captivity, causing conservation concerns, including the effects of removing the animals from their wild populations, survival of cetaceans during capture and transport and while in captivity, and the risks to wild populations and ecosystems of accidentally introducing alien species and spreading epizootic diseases, especially when animals have been transported over long distances and are held in sea pens.

Bottlenose dolphins are the most common captive cetaceans on a global scale. Prior to 1980, more than 1,500 bottlenose dolphins were collected from the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas, and more than 550 common and 60 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were brought into captivity in Japan. By the late 1980s, the United States stopped collecting bottlenose dolphins and the number of captive-born animals in North American aquaria has increased from only 6% in 1976 to about 44% in 1996. South Korea, in the 2010s, environmental groups and animal protection groups led a campaign ko:2013 to release southern bottlenose dolphins illegally captured by fishermen and trapped in Jeju Island.

In a study on three populations of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Japan, the characteristics of acoustic signals are believed to be affected by the acoustic environments among habitats, and geographical variation in animal acoustic signals can result from differences in acoustic environments; therefore, the characteristics of the ambient noise in the dolphins’ habitats and the whistles produced were compared. Ambient noise was recorded using a hydrophone located 10 m below the surface and whistles were recorded by using an underwater video system. The results showed dolphins produced whistles at varying frequencies with greater modulations when in habitats with less ambient noise, whereas habitats with greater ambient noise seem to cause dolphins to produce whistles of lower frequencies and fewer frequency modulations. Examination of the results suggest communication signals are adaptive and are selected to avoid the masking of signals and the decrease of higher-frequency signals. They concluded ambient noise has the potential to drive the variation in whistles of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin populations.

Small, motorized vessels have increased as a source of anthropogenic noise due to the rise in popularity of wildlife viewing such as whale watching. Another study showed powerboat approaches within 100 m altered the dolphin surface behaviour from traveling to milling, and changed their direction to travel away from the powerboat. When the powerboat left the area and its noise ceased, the dolphins returned to their preceding behaviour in the original direction.

In Shark Bay, Western Australia, on dolphin behavioural responses showed significant changes in the behaviour of targeted dolphins were found when compared with their behaviour before and after approaches by small watercraft. Dolphins in the low-traffic site showed a stronger and longer-lasting response than dolphins in the high-traffic site. These results are believed to show habituation of the dolphins to the vessels in a region of long-term vessel traffic. However, when compared to other studies in the same area, moderated responses, rather, were suggested to be because those individuals sensitive to vessel disturbance left the region before their study began. Although these studies do show statistical significance for the effects of whale-watching boats on behaviour, what these results mean for long-term population viability is not known. The Shark Bay population has been forecast to be relatively stable with little variation in mortality over time. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin populations of the Arafura and the Timor Sea are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals “Bonn Convention”. They are listed on Appendix II as they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is also covered by Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary “Marine protected area”  in the Australian state of South Australia Gulf St Vincent, which was established in 2005 for the protection of a resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

When we have links for viewing these species, they will appear below video and the news section

Beluga Whale

Beluga Whale

Beluga whales are only found in the arctic and sub-arctic oceans. They are one of just 2 species in their family Monodontidae, and are unique in their genus of Delphinapterus. It is also known as the white whale, the sea canary and the Melon-head (though the melon-headed dolphin is a species of its own, so this name may cause some confusion.

Adaptions it has for the Arctic, include the fact that it is white in colour, allowing it to blend into the white world more effectively, and the fact it has no dorsal fin, which allows it to swim very close to the ice sheet above.

Growing up to 5.5m in length and up to 1600kg they are a pretty large dolphin. Generally, living in groups of around 10, in the summer, they group together in their hundreds or thousands.

The worlds population is thought to be around 200,000, Some populations move from the edge of the ice cap, into rivers in warmer areas, while others stay around the ice caps year round. Groups of people in both USA and Russia have hunted them for many centuries.

Hunting is not controlled, and as such the drop in population could happen quite fast. Russia and Greenland have killed enough to drop their local population significantly, though thankfully not Alaska or Canada.

They do also have their natural predators in both the killer whale and the Polar bear.

They are the most commonly kept cetaceans in the world, with around 300 in captivity. Japan, USA, Ukraine, Canada, China and Russia as well as a few more.

There are 22 populations around the world, these vary from 39,000 down to as little as 500. The total population is around 200,000. While this number is large, the number hunted is definitely not sustainable. There is also no care to distinguish the different populations, which suggests that sub-populations could be pushed to extinction without any care.

Below, you will find a clip from a bbc documentary which features this species. Below this, is a list of any mentions that the beluga whale has had on this site. Below this, I will list any opportunities to see this species in the wild. Click on list your wild place, to list yours. It takes just a few minutes, and costs nothing – we only charge a commission on any business we send your way.

Rice Whale

Rice Whale

The Rice whale is also known as the Gulf of Mexico whale, is a relatively newly discovered whale. Until 2021, it was thought that this whale was a subpopulation of the Brydes whale, however it is actually genetically distinct.

Growing up to 12.65m and weighing between 13.8-27.2 metric tonnes, it is found in the north-east of the gulf of Mexico. unfortunately it is on the brink of extinction. The deep-water horizon oil spill killed around 20% of the whales of this species. 

While it has not been observed, the killer whale actively hunts in the area, and has regularly killed sperm whales. Brydes whales have also been targeted, so it seems impossible that rice whales are not targeted.

Around 100 of these whales exist, which is very close to extinction. 

Blue Whale

Blue whale

The largest species of whale, the largest species of mammal, indeed at almost 30m the largest species ever known to live on earth, they can weigh up to 200 tonnes. There are 4 subspecies with a possible 5 in contention.

Abundant in almost all of the worlds oceans until the 19th century, they were hunted close to extinction. In 1966 hunting of them were banned.

There are places around the world, where these animals can be watched, we hope to link to many of these below.

At their peak, before whaling, it was thought that their was around 350,000 in the world. Now there is between 10,000 and 25,000 around the world.

It is certainly not the time to allow them to be hunted again, far from it.

One recent suggestion, is that whales sink huge quantities of carbon down into the ocean, and that our current problems with global warming might have been tiny if we had not killed the vast majority of most species of Baleen whales.

Below is a small outtake from blue planet, the bbc series from 2001 which features a blue whale in the vastness of the ocean

I have included a second video clip, as this one give you an idea of the size and shape of a blue whale, in a way that little footage does.

Below this is any articles that have been written about blue whales on this website, and below that, we will add any links that might help you see blue whales in the wild.

Southern (Antarctic) Minke whale

Antarctic (Southern) Minke whale

Bizarrely, having been described in the 1850s it was not recognized as a separate species until the 1990s. Thankfully, largely ignored by whalers, it came out of the whaling age with a population that still numbered in the hundreds of thousands – with current estimates falling around half a million individuals.

The Antarctic and the Southern Minke whales are thought to have diverged around 4.7 million years ago. They are found throughout much of the Southern hemisphere.

They are the main prey item for type A killer whales, with multiple occasions this hunt having been watched. There has been a recorded occasion when a group of 10 type B killer whales also killed one of these whales.

Southern right whale

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.

Links will appear below as we make them

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