Skift Take

This year Cape Town's coast had the fewest whale sightings in a couple of decades. If climate change is to blame, that poses a long-term problem for South African Tourism, the government's official promotion agency.

A survey of the population of southern right whales off the coast of Cape Town has shown the second-lowest incidence of the aquatic mammals in 24 years, and scientists in South Africa are linking the scarcity to climate change.

The release of the findings of the survey, which was undertaken by the Whale Unit of the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute, comes as the city’s tourism industry is already puzzled by the sudden departure of great white sharks from False Bay, which lies off the east of the city.

None of the sharks have been seen this year.

Shark dives, where tourists are lowered into the sea in a cage, and whale watching are popular tourist activities in the region around Cape Town.

The whale survey, which was conducted by helicopter, found 200 of the whales in a stretch of False Bay, down from over 1,000 last year, the university said in a statement. Still, in 2016 only 119 were seen.

The changes may be related to climate conditions in the Southern Ocean, which lies off the Antarctic.

“We believe the whales are not finding enough food, due to changes in the climate conditions of the Southern Ocean, possibly related to climate change,” the unit said.

“Right whales eat krill and copepods and with not enough food they cannot store enough energy to complete the costly migration and reproduction. This has implications for population recovery.”

Southern right whales can grow to 16 meters (52 feet) and weigh 60 metric tons.

Learn more about why Cape Town’s sharks seem to be disappearing, here.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Antony Sguazzin from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

The Travel Industry's Leading Event Is Headed to Dubai
Join Us December 13-15, 2022
See the Event

Tags: cape town, climate change, south africa, south african tourism, sustainability, travel advisor innovation report, wildlife

Photo credit: A southern right whale breaches the water at Hermanus, east of Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Sept. 23, 2005. The whale-watching industry brings visitors that also spend on lodging, food, and safaris, according to South African Tourism, the government's official promotion agency. Dave Fish / Bloomberg

Up Next

Loading next stories