Southern Right Whale Spotted in Chilean Waters

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Patagonia Times - Biologists in recent months have been surprised to discover that the Southern Right Whale, which previously had been sighted only in Argentine waters, is venturing into the Magellan Strait just off of Punta Arenas in Chile’s Region XII. If this trend lasts, it could boost tourism in the area. 

Researchers in the area recorded 20 Southern Right Whales in the eastern mouth of the Magellan Strait – a significant amount, considering that two or three are spotted off the coast of Central Chile each year.

Until now, the Magellan Strait had been solely populated by the Humpback Whale, especially in the area surrounding Carlos III Island in the Francisco Coloane Aquatic Reserve, located 200 kilometers south-east of Punta Arenas. The Southern Right Whale hails from the Atlantic, and has always been sighted in Argentine waters off the Valdes Peninsula.

Marine biologists Carlos Olavarria (from the Quaternary Study Center) and Jorge Gibbons (from the Patagonia Institute at the Universidad de Magellan) have been monitoring the whale population off Punta Arenas in an effort to recuperate their population in southern Chile.

“It is relatively easy to see them,” said Olavarria. “When I was in the area in May and June I saw quite a lot of them. The challenge for tourists is arriving there in the middle of the Patagonian winter.” Read more...

Photo courtesy of Flickr