Jean Tresfon, a marine conservation photographer recently shared some exciting news about all the whales being spotted off the coast of the Western Cape.


Jean Tresfon is a marine conservation photographer and recently he went on fly-over of the Western Cape coastline to spot some whales. What the team spotted was something incredible. The team spotted over 1300 Southern Right Whales in a 7 hour period.

He shared the story on his Facebook page in the hopes that it would uplift everyone.

“With all the bad news and negativity in the media, especially when it comes to the state of our marine resources, it’s great to be able to share something rather more uplifting…”

Jean joined the team from the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit. They took off this past Saturday as the weather was perfect for spotting any whales in the ocean. The aerial team then went on to pick up Whale Scientist Chris Wilkinson and caught a beautiful sight of the frost covered fields.

After lifting off again we encountered the first southern right whales almost immediately, hardly surprising since the area between Hermanus lagoon mouth and De Kelders is one of the known hotspots for these gentle giants. The area yielded a count of 107 whales, 41 cow/calf pairs and 25 unaccompanied adults.

There were a few more whales at Pearly Beach, Die Dam and Agulhas and then another big group between Struisbaai and Arniston. The next hotspot was at the De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve, from Skipskop Point to Lekkerwater, where we spotted an incredible 1,116 whales, or 558 cow/calf pairs, highlighting the fact that Koppie Alleen is without question the most important nursery area for southern right whales on the South African coast.

There were also several large great white sharks swimming amongst the whales and calves. From here to Cape Infanta there were quite a few more mothers & calves spread out along the coast and then another 60 whales in St. Sebastian Bay, clustered mainly around the Breede River mouth and further east towards the Duiwenhoks River mouth.

We terminated the survey at Witsands but could still see many more southern rights along the coast further to the east! After landing near Infanta to refuel the gyrocopter and grab a quick bite, we set off again, this time in the opposite direction and with more opportunity to get some images since we were finished with the count. We also spotted both bottlenose and humpback dolphins, plenty of cape fur seals and even a few bait balls on the way back.

The number of Southern Right Whales spotted was triple the amount of last years count. They didn’t get a chance to make it all the way up the coastline. These numbers are promising and make us feel quite hopeful. As long as we continue our work in protecting the oceans, these numbers will continue to blossom.

Later on, I received a message from Els Vermeulen, head of the Whale Unit, to let me know the final numbers… 661 cow/calf pairs plus 25 unaccompanied adults, for a total of 1,347 southern right whales counted between Hawston and Witsands!

This is almost exactly triple the amount of whales counted at nearly the same time (1st week of Sep) in the same area in 2017, and a new all-time record for southern right whales counted along our coast!

Sources: Used with Permission by Jean Tresfon – Marine Conservation Photographer.
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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