Rare ‘Salt and Peppery’ Southern Right Whale Calf Sighting On The NSW Far South Coast!

Sep 23, 2022by Olivia Harper - F&F

A rare ‘salt and pepper’ patterned newborn whale calf of the southern right species has been spotted on the NSW Far South Coast. Excited locals, photographers and marine experts are on the look out, as whale watching season commences in the region!

White Southern Right Whale CalfWhite Southern Right Whale Calf

Image: Peter Harris

Unique Sighting Of A White Southern Right Whale Calf!

August is the time of year when some whales still travel north as part of their annual migration on Australia's east coast, while others head south. Amongst this crossover came the unique sighting of a white southern right whale calf!

This extraordinarily rare newborn whale appeared to have white skin with a speckled ‘peppery’ pattern. How adorable! Dr. Vanessa Pirotta, a wildlife scientist stated, "any white animal, as we’ve seen with Migaloo, catches the attention of many people in Australia, if not the world.”

A small percentage of southern right whales are born white, and in this case, this animal is known as a ‘gray morph’. We think this is such a memorable sighting to kick off the whale watching season for 2022!

White Whale Calf & MotherWhite Whale Calf & Mother

Image: Richard Gonzalez / Instagram @the.shot.father

Whale Pods Are On The Move - These Mammals Have Arrived Early!

If you’re on the far south coast of NSW and thought you spotted a whale early August — odds are you did, because the whales arrived early! Usually mid-August marks the start of whale watching season on the NSW far south coast, but cruise operators were organising tours early off the coasts of Bermagui, Merimbula, and Eden, weeks prior.

"We've had a great stream of southbound whales for a few weeks now," said Simon Millar, Director of Sapphire Coastal Adventures. "We didn't used to start until the end of August, but we've had multiple pods off Merimbula. It looks like it's going to be an amazing season."

Mr Millar also found the sighting of the southern right white calf unique, after not having seen the species in three years!

Southern Right WhaleSouthern Right Whale

Image: Australian Museum 

Hope For The Future Of Southern Rights

Scientists say that unfortunately the calf is not likely to stay white its entire life and will likely darken as it reaches adulthood. The good news, however, is its existence has encouraged many to ensure the survival of the southern right whale species.

This whale species reproduces much slower than the humpback and was vulnerable to numerous threats in the post-whaling era. Currently, the southern right whale isn’t recovering as well as the humpback population, but we really hope to see this change in the future! 

Dr Pirotta commented, "When we do see one, it's of great significance because any contribution or addition to the southern right whale population is a special one for all of us.”

What an unbelievable sighting to not only spot whales before the season usually begins, but to also kick off the whale watching season with a white newborn calf traveling along the coast!

For more stories about unique wildlife sightings and conservation efforts around the world, make sure to check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

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