Application of a photo-identification based assessment model to southern right whales in South African waters, now including data up to 2012

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International Whaling Commission (IWC)

This paper extends the analyses of Brandão et al. (2012) which applied the three-mature-stages (receptive, calving and resting) model of Cooke et al. (2003) to photo-identification data available from 1979 to 2010 for southern right whales in South African waters, by taking two further years of data into account. The 2012 number of parous females is estimated to be 1 321, the total population (including males and calves) 5 062, and the annual population growth rate 6.6%. This reflects a small reduction to the 6.8% increase rate estimated previously; this is a result of slightly lesser numbers in recent years than estimated previously. Information from resightings of grey blazed calves as adults with calves allows estimation of first year survival rate of 0.850, compared to a subsequent annual rate of 0.988. This information also suggests that 7% (s.e. 6%) of grey blazed calves are not recognised as such when adults; this estimate is much less than that of 27% obtained previously by Brandão et al. (2012), and is more compatible with the relative proportions of grey blazed animals amongst calves and amongst calving adults which suggest a value of 10% (s.e. 8%).