The first humpback whales return to New Caledonia

This Sunday morning a humpback whale was observed near Kouaré islet in the southern lagoon. It is one of the first specimens of the year, with those already reported in Lifou last weekend.



It is a sight that Caledonians never tire of, that of the arrival of whales on the territory. This Sunday, June 5, a specimen was observed in the southern lagoon. Another was reported near Bourail.

An early return to the whale watching season, which runs from mid-July to September. But a return that is not abnormal. Early June is a little early, but it’s already happened.” spear Claire Garrigue, scientific manager of the Cetacean Operation association and researcher at the IRD. “What I think is that these animals that we see a little early at the start of the season, it is possible that they are whales heading towards areas a little further north. We know that there are whales in Vanuatu, for example“.

To find out more, you would have to be able to see these animals or have photo testimonials from the people who observe them. They are recognized by their identity card, which is the design they have under their caudal fin. If we have this photo, we can already see if we will see it again in the season and therefore see if it is an animal that is here, in its breeding area or perhaps we will not see it again and that it will be seen elsewhere“, continues the specialist.

Claire Garrigue, scientific manager of the Opération cetaceans association

Already last weekend, specimens had been observed in Lifou. But for companies that offer to observe cetaceans at sea, you have to wait a little longer. “These are the first whales, these are the scouts who come. But there is not yet enough to make outings worthy of the name. We always start the season between July 10 and 15“, explains Gilles Watelot, president of the nautical and tourist activities union.

A singular and privileged spectacle, always regulated. “We always have rules to respect: we each have the right to one hour of observation and we are quite regularly led to reduce the time according to the number of boats waiting. We have the right to enter only four boats by four boats in the observation area. And the same whale can only be observed for three hours in the same day. So we organize ourselves, to reduce our observation times“, details the president of SANT.

Gilles Watelot, president of the nautical and tourist activities union.

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