The sun was out and another beautiful morning in Augusta greeted us as we made our way out into Flinders Bay. A pod of two Humpbacks were moving peacefully across the bay and we noticed with interest that they swam alongside each other belly to belly for a short time. The exhalation of a young Humpback caught our attention and we all gasped in awe as he launched his entire body above the waters surface in a full bodied breach. Three more breaches followed and they were spectacular to watch only meters in front of the bow. A small movement on the surface from our next pod seemed strange, perhaps we had sighted Bottlenose Dolphins travelling with the group of two adults. Again it surfaced and this time we had a very good view… it was a baby Humpback Whale! The very first calf for season 2018 and although surprising, we did have four calves born in Flinders Bay last year and we will continue to monitor the bay for this little one. We stayed for a short time to collect photo identification of mum, male escort and calf who all swam directly past our bow looking for our sound footprint as a smaller dinghy approached nearby.
Our afternoon was again filled with further surprises as a friendly juvenile Humpback took a few moments to investigate us before we moved towards gentle movement just ahead. Two adult Southern Right Whales were dancing together at the surface of Flinders Bay and we watched the gentle courtship of these two whales. Pectoral slapping from the female to encourage the attention of the male as they twirled in circles and at one point both of their pectoral fins were touching together, almost as if they were holding hands! A privilege to be so close to these endangered Southern Right Whales and to observe their gentle courtship behaviour.
A few other female Humpbacks and their male escorts were cruising through the bay and we could see in the distance hazy blows moving at a steady pace. Approaching gently we could count between 7-10 individuals racing after a female with a few very large males in the mix. Looking carefully at the images you can see on one of the males where his tubercles (the bumps on his upper and lower jaw) have been rubbed raw from close contact with the other males. They look very painful, but are all part of the northern migration and a great example of the determination these males have to win the hearts of their females. A magnificent day to witness some spectacular behaviour, meet the first Humpback Whale calf for season 2018 and see the beautiful courtship of two Southern Right Whales, Augusta really is a special place!