Blue Whales Are Back in Seychelles


Seychelles is renowned for its stunning holiday spots, but early in the 20th century, it was also a prime hunting ground for whalers.

Fortunately, in 1978, Seychelles successfully lobbied to protect the Indian Ocean from whaling.

Until recently, it was uncertain if blue whales had returned to this area, but scientists have now confirmed their comeback.

Whale Research

Scientists from Florida International University, Oregon State University, and the University of Seychelles conducted research over two seasons (November 2020 and 2021) in an area where blue whales were spotted in 2017.

They used visual surveys and an acoustic recorder to capture year-round sounds in the ocean.

The team set up a diver-deployed acoustic recorder to monitor whale sounds continuously.

Their efforts paid off as they recorded 23 species of marine life, including the pygmy blue whale, confirming that these majestic creatures now visit Seychelles.

This discovery is significant because it highlights the successful conservation efforts in the region.

A Remarkable Discovery

Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, a biology professor at Florida International University, shared his amazement, saying, “It is remarkable to know that the largest animal on earth swims here.”

Dillys Pouponeau, a research assistant at the SOSF D’Arros Research Centre, added, “This is big news because it shows how our regulations have helped protect this species after whaling.”

The team discovered that the whales belong to the northern Indian Ocean population.

These whales spend several months in the region, mainly during March and April.

There is also a possibility that they are breeding in these waters, which is a positive sign for their population recovery.

Importance of Seychelles for Blue Whales

Dr. Kate Stafford, one of the lead investigators, explained the significance of the findings, “This means the Seychelles could be really important for blue whales.

They sing during the breeding season, and we think it’s probably the males who are singing, based on what we know about other whales.”

A Welcome Return

In the past, Seychelles was a whaling hotspot, where many blue whales were killed.

During the 1960s, whalers killed 500 blue whales near Seychelles, and over 12,000 pygmy blue whales were removed from the Indian Ocean.

This massive decline had a devastating impact on their population.

Even though whaling is now banned, and blue whale numbers have increased in some conservation areas, there is still more work to ensure their survival.

The return of blue whales to Seychelles is a positive sign, indicating that the marine ecosystem is recovering.

Ongoing Threats

Dr. Kiszka emphasized the ongoing challenges, “Blue whales are protected because they are no longer legally hunted, but they still face a range of threats.

Shipping traffic causes noise pollution and can lead to collisions.

Climate change is also affecting the distribution and abundance of their key food, krill.”

Noise pollution from shipping traffic can disrupt the whales’ communication and navigation.

Collisions with ships are also a significant threat to their safety.

Additionally, climate change is altering ocean temperatures and currents, which affects the availability of krill, their primary food source.

Conservation Efforts

To protect these gentle giants, continued conservation efforts are essential.

Measures such as creating marine protected areas, regulating shipping routes, and monitoring climate change impacts are crucial.

Public awareness and international cooperation are also vital to ensure the long-term survival of blue whales.

In conclusion, the return of blue whales to Seychelles is a positive sign, but continued efforts are needed to protect these magnificent creatures and ensure their future.

The success of these conservation measures offers hope for other endangered species as well.