21. Mysterious whale swarms in South Africa
Humpback whales are known for being solitary animals, usually found on their own or in groups of no more than three or four. So scientists in South Africa were left perplexed when they started to notice “swarms” of the creatures – around 200 of them – gathering in an area of ocean no bigger than a football pitch.
Even more confusing is that this was during the summer, and humpback whales normally only visit these waters during the winter to feed on small fish, shrimp and plankton.
Various explanations have been put forward, one is that because they were seen to be hunting (which for humpback whales means diving and then lunging into the water to catch their prey), they simply may have decided to stay put, rather than migrating north. Or, some say it’s because population numbers have improved, and therefore, could this be normal behaviour for the species when numbers are flourishing?
Either way, something is changing the behaviour of the whales. Could climate change be affecting their behaviour or their available prey? Or is a sinister undercurrent something scientists need to consider?