IWDG return to Cape Verde in search of Port na bPucai

21st Apr 2019

27 April, 2019

Lots of aerial activity over last few days but whales still hard to approach suitable for a biopsy attempt. Nine whales have been biopsy sampled to date, nearly in keeping with outr one a day. Three days left to get a few more samples and fluke shots......


Humpback whale calf breaching near boat in Bhai Sal Rei Photos: Simon Berrow

double breach  Photo: Simon Berrow

24 April 2019

After a week in Cape Verde we have obtained 8 biopsy samples and three new  fluke shots to add to the Cape Verde Islands Humpback whale catalogue. A good return for Cape Verde. Working with Pedrin Lopez Suarez of Bios CV in Boavista, Fred Wenzel of NOAA in the USA and Jose Perez from Sal in Cape Verde is a joy.


Working with the whales and the relentless trade winds in Cape Verde is both a joy as well as a great challenge. No wonder few research groups try and work down here.

However, when it  all comes together the rewards are great.


Humpback fluking off Santa Monica on Tuesday 23 April 2019 © Simon Berrow, IWDG

20 April 2019

The famous slow air Port na bPucai from west Kerry is thought to be the "music of the faries" but there are some who suggest the inspiration could be the "song of humpback whales". Humpback whales sing on their breeding grounds and their songs were once thought to be unique to that breeding ground. Humpback whales breeding in the Caribbean sing a different song to those breeding off west Africa. Humpback whales have been recorded singing in Ireland - a feeding ground. Under WhaleTrack Ireland the IWDG will deploy acoustic recorders in an attempt to record humpbacks singing in Ireland. Which song do they sing, a Caribbean or West African beat.. or the music of the fairies ?

We are working with Pedrin Lopez Surarez of Bios CV in Boavista and José Perez who owns and skippers Alamarin II a 8m Shamrock angling boat, José brought  down from Santa Maria on the island of Sal for the study. 


Alamarin II and skipper José Perez

This year Dr Simon Berrow was joined by Dr Fred Wenzel of NOAA in Woods Hole, USA, the pioneer of humpback whale research in Cape Verde having obtained the first fluke and biopsy samples in 1991. This will be Fred's last visit to Cape Verde before he retires, so its a special time. Imagine the surprise when "Fred" the humpback whale, (named after Fred, whom he documented in 1991 and was the first humpback whale fluke ID obtained in Cape Verde), was recorded on the day he arrived this year on 17th April ! 


"Fred" the first humpback photographed in Cape Verde in 1991 and named after Fred Wenzel © Manuel Rodrigues (aka Strava)


Fred Wenzel, the original © Simon Berrow

So one of the objectives of this campaign is to train up local biologists in Cape Verde to enable them to start collecting biopsy samples as well as obtaining photo-id images. Since Thursday 18th April we have obtained three biopsy samples, two of the whales are known from Cape Verde and not previously sampled while the third is a new whale. The whale biopsy sampled yesterday was recorded singing in 2006 south of Santa Monica, Boavista and recorded in Iceland in 2014. 


Biopsy arrow striking NA04799 © Simon Berrow, IWDG

As well as photographing humpback whales and collecting biopsy samples we record everything of interest including this 5-6m whale shark which we observed swiming northwest of Sal Rei on 20th April. Short video by Kate Yeomans of Bios CV on a GoPro 4 hanging off the mid-ships can be seen here.


We will be updating this page as we progress through IWDG CVI Expedition 2019

Dr Simon Berrow


CVI 2019 is funded by the US Based Island Foundation to whom we are very grateful 

You are welcome to share or use information and articles from this website but please reference the source and acknowledge the IWDG.