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Humpback whale monitoring in Zavora, Mozambique

Zavora Bay, Mozambique offers an ideal observation point of the passage of humpback whales during their annual migration towards the breeding ground of southern Africa and serves as an operating base to monitor this population. MAR expeditions has been conducting land-based surveys for over a decade to study the importance of Zavora Bay as part of this breeding ground and to monitor their population and behaviour over time. So far, our results have shown that the waters off the coast of Zavora are actively used for breeding and do not merely serve as passage towards the wintering habitats. We have identified a mother-calf pair separation with a preference for shallower waters closer to shore, and depth, distance to shore, and slope having a significant influence on the distribution of adult humpback whales. Sightings per unit effort from 2011- 2020 show a decrease in whale sightings since 2014, with 2018 and 2019 being particularly low years. Our aim is to continue to monitor whale sightings over time so that we can better understand what is influencing their populations and migration patterns.

Van Driessche CDA, Cullain N, Tibiriçá Y, O’Connor I (2020). Fine-scale habitat use by humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Zavora Bay, Mozambique. Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science, 19(2): 129-145.

Contributor: Nakia Cullain