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Whales and Dolphins in the Cape Verdes

Humpback whales in Murdeira Bay

Whales can be seen passing the Churrasco restaurant along the West Coast of Sal in June and July on their long migration south to the Antarctic seas. T

The Cape Verdes lived from whaling in the bad old days. Numbers are much reduced. In summer a few sperm and right whales bring their calves into Murdeira Villas Bay for weaning. You may be lucky enough to see them from a hired boat from Murdeira Villas resort. There are also dolphins at times.Many other fish can be seen by divers at the right times of year including the massive plankton-eating whale shark .Despite 650 years of human settlement, Cape Verde still hosts a high degree of biodiversity, featuring many species of animals and plants that are found nowhere else, according to WWF. The surrounding waters of the Atlantic Ocean provide important feeding grounds for marine turtles and breeding humpback whales, as well as fishing grounds for both local and international fishers. Recent studies have also found coral reefs of global significance off the coast of several of the islands.With help from WWF and Natura 2000, the Government has identified and declared 47 protected areas throughout the archipelago. "There are rays of hope as the Government starts to realize that it must take the protection of the environment seriously." says Celeste Benchimol of WWF Cape Verde. He urges.

"They need to strengthen their environmental legislation, as well as conduct environmental impact assessments. These should be carried out by independent experts and not by tourism investors themselves."

Portuguese colonists started primitive whaling in the 16th Century. American whalers came to hunt sperm whales from the 1760s. They started to collect crew in Brava from the 1800s often decommission them in Boston. A whaling station was built on Brava in the 1870s. American whalers sharply reduced the population of humpback whales throughout the century.

Portuguese whaling companies set up in Tarrafal, on Sao Nicolau in 1874, and in Sal in 1883. Whaling stations existed until 1912 on Sao Nicolau and Maio, but by then there were too few whales left to make it viable. Humback and Sperm whale are still to be seen but they are a rarity thanks to the success of 19th Century whaling.

A blue whale and her cub took up residence in Murdeira Bay and could often be seen around Murdeira and off the west Coast of Sal and in the seas towards Boa Vista. I saw them from a couple of miles off making a tremendousd amount of splashing in the sea and then jumping right out of the water. At the first jump there was a latrge and a small blue whale with the distinguisinhing flat tale of a whale but the scond jump only the mother rose out of the water. Sadly I heard later that the calf had been savaged by s school of shark and once eventually floating wounded to shore had to be put out of its misery by local fishermen,

A larghe pack of Blue whales has been seen in Palmera harbour where one calf was killed by a French tourist who lacerated it with his outboard in his anxiety to take a close-ip photo.Swimming out to sea bleeding to death it was easy prey to shark. The family has never returned.

J from Scotland was lucky enough to see humpback whales close to shore

"the highlight of our trip was to see a group of migrating whales no more than 50m off the coast, a bonus we didn`t expect"

JC from Divernet reports

"The most memorable thing about that day's diving, however, was being under water and hearing the strange, haunting sound of humpbacks singing, a sound so mesmerising it stops you in your tracks"