On Sunday (22/05/2022) Westerlaken Foundation together with Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) conducted a survey in the waters of west Bali. Previously in February, Westerlaken Foundation conducted the first survey and obtained the data that was used as a reference in this survey. Bryde’s Whales are typically seen alone or in groups of no more than three, covering a large area. Besides Bryde's Whale (Balaenoptera brydei), we can also see some pods of Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in these waters. The number recorded is 7-9 Bryde's Whales and pods of Dolphins with a total of approximately 10-20 individuals.
Photograph showing the distinctive head –ridges of a Bryde’s whale. Photo courtesy of Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN).
With continuous monitoring and consistent sightings for the last 4 months, it is possible that these Bryde’s Whales are here to reside year-round. Given the location there is a great whales/dolphins watching tourism potential. The distance from the coast to the location of the whale is also relatively close, approximately 45-60 minutes using a local fishing boat. Though the dolphins sightings are not as frequent as in Lovina.
Bryde’s Whale body anatomy (source: iwc.int)
Bryde’s Whales feeding on the surface
Bryde’s whales predominantly feed on schooling fish (including sardines, anchovies, mackerels and herrings), but they have also been documented to prey on crustaceans like krill, copepods or pelagic red crabs.
In the future, Westerlaken Foundation and JAAN plan to collaborate to provide education to coastal residents about whales and dolphins, and handling them when they become stranded, especially in locations prone to stranded whales such as in the south of Bali. Subsequently we will explore the possibilities to create an MPA (Marine Protected Area).