The Marine Section of the Environmental Management Division has received its first reports of Humpback whale sightings in St Helena waters for this year.

Humpback whales are annual visitors to St Helena, usually from June to December. St Helena waters are used by Humpback whales as a sheltered location to give birth and allow their calves to grow. Whales and calves can be viewed from land or from a boat. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a mother and calf passing James Bay close inshore.

Humpbacks are very sensitive to noise. Noise from boats travel fast through water and can be heard over long distances. If you are intending to view whales from a boat, please do so with caution and respect, observing the following guidelines to prevent disturbances:

  • Remain a minimum of 100m distance away from the whale(s) and do not approach the whale(s) from the front or rear
  • If a vessel comes closer than 100m to the whale, it must place its motor in neutral or move at a speed less than 5 knots away from the whale until the vessel is outside the zone
  • Do not cause a whale to alter its direction or speed of travel
  • Do not disperse a group of whales
  • Snorkelling with whales is prohibited
  • Please remember when a whale is with a calf, a vessel must approach so that the mother is always between the calf and the vessel

Humpbacks can grow up to 17m in length and live for up to 50 years. One of the most energetic of the large whales, they are known for their spectacular breaching displays and long complex songs. At close range its knobbly heads and long flippers are unmistakable. Each individual can be identified by the unique pattern on the underside of its tail, much like our fingerprints.

Enjoy viewing these magnificent creatures, and please remember to report your sightings to the Environmental Management Divison (EMD) Marine Section on tel: 22270 or via email: marine@enrd.gov.sh

For each sighting please note the:

  • Date/time
  • Location
  • Numbers
  • Specific behaviour

This information is continually being used to further scientific knowledge of our marine life and allows better conservation measures to be put in place so we can continue to enjoy their visits into the future.

#StHelena #EMD #HumpbackWhales

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SHG

17 July 2018

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