Whale Unit Hermanus – Whale Research South Africa

Established in 1985, the MRI Whale Unit is a global, African research, conservation and education facility that researches the ecology, population dynamics and behaviour of the diverse cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in the Southern African sub-region and surrounding oceans, with the principal objective of providing knowledge that will promote their conservation. A primary raison d’être of the Unit remains the development of human capacity in these areas. Research, Conservation and Education are interlinked to execute forward-looking programmes, integral for the understanding of conservation priorities for African cetaceans.

The MRI Whale Unit possesses a wealth of expertise and tacit knowledge, intellectual property, and well-established knowledge resource bases. The Unit has current national and international collaborations with over 30 organisations, and co-leads the research theme on southern right whales of the Southern Ocean Research Partnership of the International Whaling Commission (iwc.int/sorp)

Research Projects range across a broad national and international geographic and institutional spectrum and align within these Research Themes:

  • Recovering Whales – The role of large whales in Southern Hemisphere Ocean Ecosystems

    • Large Migratory whale population abundance and trends

      • Southern right whale population abundance and trends

      • East and West coast humpback whale abundance

      • Antarctic blue whale population abundance

      • Acoustic monitoring of seasonal presence and abundance of baleen whales on historical whaling grounds

    • Large whale feeding ecology

      • West coast humpback feeding ecology

      • Southern right whales as a model species to predict the effects of climate change on Southern Ocean productivity

      • Southern right whale body condition on the South African breeding ground

  • African Links – Building African Marine Mammal research capacity

    • African East Coast and Western Indian Ocean

      • Establishing movement links of humpback whales between SA and Mozambique, Madagascar and the Western Indian ocean archipelago breeding grounds

      • Monitoring occurrence of southern right whales in Mozambique and links between SA and Mozambique

Contact Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit

Department of Zoology & Entomology
University of Pretoria
South Africa

Based at:
Shop 11, Astoria Village, Main Road, Hermanus, 7200, Western Cape, South Africa

Office telephone: Dr Els Vermeulen +27 (0)60 971 4301; Chris Wilkinson +27 (0)83 580 8247

Email: els.vermeulen@up.ac.za / christopher.wilkinson@up.ac.za



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