South Georgia right whales: Where are they now?

Measuring recovery from whaling

Almost driven to extinction by whaling, southern right whales are now the most commonly seen whale species in South Georgia. In 2018, the first multi-year project to assess the recovery of right whales in South Georgia began.

Led by Dr Jennifer Jackson at the British Antarctic Survey and co-Investigator Emma Carroll, the work will use GPS satellite tags, genomics and individuals identified using photographs of natural markings to investigate:

How many right whales are using South Georgia waters?

Where and what they are feeding on?

What wintering grounds are linked to the South Georgia feeding ground?

For more information on this EU BEST funded work see our project website.

The History

The South Georgia marine ecosystem is globally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, and its waters are one target of a growing krill fishery. This sub-Antarctic island was also once the epicentre of modern whaling in the Southern Hemisphere (1904-1965), with over 176,000 whales killed in its coastal waters. South Georgia’s remote beaches are still littered with whalebones and the remains of whaling paraphernalia.