Whale:SWIM (South Georgia Whale Investigations and Management) is a European Commission EU BEST 2.0 and DARWIN PLUS project. This project comprises a series of surveys of southern right whales on their feeding grounds off South Georgia, and runs from May 2017 to December 2020. We want to find out how many are using these waters, where they are feeding, what they are feeding on, and how healthy they are, given big recent mortalities of calves on their calving grounds in Argentina.

Our team will be heading to South Georgia this January, starting the voyage from the Falkland Islands. Check out our blog for regular news of our journey! At present we are in the cruise planning phase, completing training, finalising protocols and preparing the luggage we will take down to the Falkland Islands in January.

Where are they now? Right whales in the South Georgia marine ecosystem.

A diving right whale, seen close to the coast of South Georgia. Image: Dave Rootes

BEST is the voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European overseas. It aims to support the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation in the EU Outermost Regions (OR) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). The BEST scheme has been active since 2010.

The UK’s DARWIN PLUS award provides funding for environmental projects in overseas territories, and is also known as the Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund. It is part of the UK’s Darwin Initiative, and some of its recently funded projects can be found here.

We have also received funding support from the World Wildlife Fund to support our recent humpback whale tracking work, and our 2019 field season at King Edward Point station was co-funded by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and Friends of South Georgia Island, with substantial logistical support also kindly provided by the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

For more info, see the links at the top of the page and please do get in contact if you have any questions or comments!