Every year All Out Africa marine scientists join other researchers all along the East African coast in a coordinated dawn-to-dusk whale watch. For one day of the year we all record at the same times and in the same way to give a giant comparable view of the humpback whale migration.
This year the 5th of August was the chosen day and it started well with a gorgeous sunrise over flat seas. Almost as soon as the sun was up the action started, a field of tiny volcano-like puffs of water droplet-tinged breath into the air. From a viewpoint with a 180 degree view the directional movement was evident, all whales heading pointedly either north or south with hardly any pauses and no turning around. From just past the backline of the breaking waves through to the horizon they marched to and fro on their mission.
The humpback whales are migrating between the calm tropical and sub-tropical waters of their mating and breeding grounds, to the hectic, rough, churning and productive waters of the Antarctic where there is enough food for them to eat.
The heat of the day brought a lull in activity at lunchtime with a noticeably quieter period. The afternoon’s reduced temperatures brought more mothers and calfs – logging in the shallows for a few moments, stopping off on their travels for a quick feed, and groups of adults – breaching in the distance, rising out of the ocean in what almost looked like slow-motion.
Keep an eye on All Out Africa social media to see how this placed us in the rankings of humpback whale watchers along the East African Coast!
Did we see the most?
Written by Katie Reeve-Arnold
( Marine Research & Whale Shark Conservation Project Coordinator)