First Humpback calves Season 2023 were sighted today in Flinders Bay, Augusta as we were very excited to observe not just one but two new calves for the Western Australian population. The first calf was slightly older and travelling with mum who also had the company of a male escort. The little family pod made their way through the bay and it was good to know that this mother whale had a protective male escort to help defend both herself and her calf during the journey north. Our next surprise was much younger and extremely pale as this newborn was no more than a few days old and still showing a dorsal fin folded over. The pale complexion and folded dorsal fin indicates a very young calf less than a week old along with the tiny size of these babies compared two their mum. Nurturing and protective of their calves both mothers were carefully navigating through Flinders Bay and enjoying the protection and shelter that it provides.
Although they are not travelling together we tend to find that mother whales who have their calves further south have a habit of sticking close to other mothers in the vicinity. Following the others travel movements and resting when hey rest as well ensures that they look out for each other in a way and more eyes/ears are alert to any dangers that may be around the corner. The further south these mother whales find themselves the higher the chance of bumping into Orca who are the main predator of Humpback Whale calves. The females are very aware of the risk and hug the coastline as best they can to avoid making contact with these apex predators who tend to prefer hunting further offshore in these southern waters. Our team on the Gold Coast also reported their first Humpback calf sightings for 2023 which was very exciting news to receive. A fantastic example of how our research is able to be expanded to both sides of Australia as we monitor and study the Humpback Whale populations.