The ICS Conservation Teams on the beautiful islands of Desroches and Alphonse Group have recently been treated to a natural spectacle as migrating humpback whales visited their sheltered waters and seemed in no hurry to leave.
Since mid-August affiliations of humpback whales, including at least one mother and calf pair, have been spotted playing, resting and feeding close to the islands.
On Desroches, on the morning of Sunday 20th August, the keen eyes of ICS Ranger Jean Claude-Camille spotted the blow of a whale 300 metres from the beach. Closer investigation aboard an IDC boat allowed ICS Conservation Officer Matthew Morgan to identify that it was a mother humpback with her calf. With the collaboration of two other boats, Russcat belonging to the hotel developers and the ICS boat Torti Blanc, the ICS Conservation Team identified at least three whales breaching within the lagoon in the North West and North East.
The following week a mother and calf pair were spotted in the Alphonse Group by ICS Conservation Officer Pep Nogues, as well as on D’Arros. Whales were still being spotted in the area surrounding St Francois and Bijoutier Islands as recently as 30th September. With over 170km of open ocean separating the two island groups, it is likely the whales were different individuals – and that the actual population in the area during this period could be much higher. In contrast to the sparse appearance of whales last year, 2017 has been a great season for whale sightings, with many groups present around Aldabra, and even the inner granitics experiencing whales around Cerf Island and Baie Ternay Marine National Park as recently as 29th September.
Regular monitoring helps to build knowledge of this important subject, which could help the Atolls gain protected status and open new areas of tourism.
Species identified in the Outer Islands in the past include orcas, sperm whales, bottlenose and spinner dolphins and dugongs, among others.
Many marine mammals are listed as vulnerable or endangered on the IUCN Red List, and the data collected in these remote areas helps to build a strong case for global conservation protection.