Whale watching is a beautiful thing, and lately, we’ve been spoilt with multiple sightings of the endangered Southern Right Whale! In the last week of June, sightings were reported near Portland (VIC), Forster-Tuncurry (NSW) and Christie’s Beach (SA). Let’s take a look!
Mother & Calf Spotted Near Portland, VIC
It’s not uncommon for whales to traverse past Portland in the cooler months. Typically, whale-watchers will spot Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales and the occasional Orca (Killer Whale).
Recently, the people of Portland were excited to spot a mother and calf duo close to the city’s harbour. It’s understood to be the first Southern Right Whale calf to be born in Victoria’s waters this year!
After almost being hunted to extinction in the 19th century, Southern Right Whales have increasingly returned to their old mating and birthing grounds in the south-east of Australia. The population of Southern Right Whales in this region is below 300, so that’s why they’re still listed as endangered on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Threatened Species List.
“Special Protection Order” Offered To Pregnant Whale In NSW
Okay, this is seriously adorable! Recently, a female Southern Right Whale was spotted in Wallis Lake at Forster-Tuncurry on NSW’s mid-north coast. And… she appears to be pregnant! This is amazing, considering that NSW typically only sees 20-25 whales per year, and even fewer calves.
Local whale-watching tour guide, Matt Coombe, said people were “blown away” by the sight. "To see a whale in the lake system like this, that whale was probably 15 metres and maybe 50 or 60 tonne — it was just incredible to see something that big in our lake," he said to ABC News. National Parks and Wildlife Services aren’t quite sure when or where she’ll give birth. So, to protect the pregnant whale, NSW Minister for Energy & Environment, Matt Kean, issued a first-ever Special Protection Order for the whale!
Mother & Calf Venture Extremely Close To Shore In SA
Take a look at this! Plenty of spectators gathered at Christie’s Beach recently when a mother and calf appeared unexpectedly close to shore.
Elizabeth Steele-Collins from the Encounter Bay Right Whale Study Group said that it’s rare to see a mother and a calf in a metropolitan beach area. She suspects that the pregnant female was on her way to give birth in a nursery area in SA, like Encounter Bay, Head of Bight, or Fowlers Bay — but she didn’t quite make it.
She likened it to a mother giving birth in the back of a taxi on the way to the hospital! It’s expected that the mother and calf will travel even further south to Encounter Bay when the little one is strong enough.
Submit Your Photos To WhaleFace!
State Wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams, or SWIFFT, is urging everyone on the southeast coast to submit their whale photos to WhaleFace — its Southern Right Whale photo identification project. By submitting your photos to WhaleFace, you will be helping researchers to identify, profile, monitor and protect Southern Right Whales.
It’s called ‘WhaleFace’ because Southern Right Whales have unique patterns of white features called callosities! The pattern of callosities is different for every whale, so the identification process helps researchers to monitor breeding patterns and trends in the southeast.
Visit SWIFFT to upload your photos and to find out more!
Southern Right Whales are beautiful creatures that require our protection.
The influx of recent sightings around Australia is really good news for the endangered species — especially because some of them had beautiful calves in tow! Lastly, if you spot a Southern Right Whale, don’t forget to send your photos to WhaleFace.
Head to the Eco News category to read more about Australia’s amazing marine species.