^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ J. Michael Williamson Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu> Associate Professor-Science Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215 voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256 fax: 617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Fri, 11 Apr 97 11:53:00 GMT From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Right whales recover strongly Right whales recover strongly off S.Africa CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Reuter) - Southern Right Whales, hunted to the brink of extinction in the first half of the century, produced a record crop of around 140 calves in the 1996 breeding season off South Africa, an expert said Thursday. Peter Best, senior whale researcher for the University of Pretoria's mammal research institute, told Reuters he had photographed 146 cow-and-calf pairs during his annual survey last year. Through analysis of the photographs and the distinctive barnacle-like markings, he expects to weed out a handful of double-sightings, but the evidence remains clear that the whales are breeding successfully. "There are more whales off the South African coast now than there have been for at least the last 100 years. They are breeding as fast as it is possible for them to do," he said. Working from the South African national museum in Cape Town, Best combs the coast by air every year, photographing cow and calf pairs as part of a survey to monitor the recovery of the whales. He said last year's survey, the results of which are still being analysed, pointed to a growth in the migrant South African population from 2,000 to around 2,300 over the past three years. That could be between a half and a third of the surviving world population of the Southern Right Whales, so named by 19th Century hunters because they were the best or "right" whales to kill. "They are still depleted. It seems we are now around 10 percent of the original numbers before whaling started in earnest in the 18th Century. They've still got a long way to go," Best said. The Southern Right Whales, which visit the South African coast between June and December every year, were given international protection in 1937, but the hunting ban was routinely violated until the 1960s. Now, the whales are protected from hunters and from the increasing numbers of whale tourists who arrive every year to watch them frolic in Cape Town's False Bay and in Walker Bay, their main calving grounds, to the east. Hundreds of tourists visit the town of Hermanus every year to watch the whales playing in clear water at the base of its low cliffs, but boat-based whale-watching is carefully regulated to prevent any interference in the breeding pattern. Best said individual whales calved every three years.