White Whale Pearl returns to Augusta as we re-sighted a very special Southern Right Whale who was born in season 2016 in Flinders Bay, Augusta. At first we were travelling with four Humpback Whales who were being very social when just over the other side of them we noticed two muffled blows moving towards us. Bemused to see two whales swimming towards our vessel we stopped and watched carefully when suddenly the Southern Ocean began to glow white and our hearts skipped a beat as a white Southern Right Whales surfaced! Jumping for joy as we looked over her beautiful markings and recognised Pearl straight away, the white whale Pearl had returned to Augusta and was swimming straight towards us with her friend. Pearl is regarded as a grey morph Southern Right Whale and although she has kept the vast majority of her white tone it has now started to turn grey and a few of her markings have spread as her body has grown.
We simply couldn’t believe we were watching Pearl again and to see her happy, healthy and three years of age filled our hearts with joy. She was travelling with a lovely friend who seemed interested in us but we were amazed to watch as Pearl continued to swim towards us, recognising the sound of our vessel. It was just like meeting a family member as she came closer and would stop and look back up at us. A very exciting opportunity to continue observing the life of Pearl and we are sure that Pearl will help answer a few questions that still remain of the life story and movements of the Australian Southern Right Whales. Interestingly, grey morph Southern Rights are predominantly males so we will have to wait and see if Pearl is in fact a male, but either way this special Southern Right is back home and enjoying some time in Flinders Bay!
Our afternoon was also incredibly interesting as we watched a large female being followed by two males and as she pec slapped they continued to follow her closely towards the reef line. Our next interaction held a very special surprise as we watched one large adult surfacing quietly, until a little grey shape appeared alongside her. Another Humpback calf and this little one was different from our first sighting only days ago. A very floppy dorsal fin, foetal folds and hardly a scratch on the beautiful pale skin indicated that this baby was only a few hours old and very new indeed! We watched as mum began to move towards a pod of two adults up ahead, perhaps she was seeking the support and protection of a male escort. The two adults travelling in an escort pod did not want to interact and slowly swam away from her as she diverted her movements and went back to a resting mode. We gently left mother and calf to enjoy their afternoon and hope that once baby has put on some size, strength and coordination the pair will continue north.