Whales of the South West

The whale sightings in the South West during the Australian winter include Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales and we had the privilege of meeting both species today… twice! Our morning began as we watched three pods of whales surface all around us and our first interaction was with Humpback mother and calf pod number seven for Season 2019 as a very pretty mum and her beautiful calf surfaced together. She gently began to bring her baby over to us and we watched his little shiny rostrum break the surface showing off his brand new tubercles which are those tiny bumps you can see on his upper and lower jaw. Two adult Humpbacks began to swim towards us and mum wisely moved her calf further away as the two approached our stern. They surfaced very close and began to circle around us as they investigated our vessel further. Continuing on they moved right past another slight ruffle on the surface and we looked on in amazement as yet another Humpback calf surfaced with mum just up ahead!

We had sighted this female yesterday further outside Flinders Bay and she was easy to recognise thanks to the unique markings along her flank caused by old barnacle scars. Yesterday she did not have a calf with her and now we watched as this brand new baby surfaced alongside mum. We didn’t spend long, just a few minutes to capture some ID images of mum and watch as tiny baby pushed his head right up out of the water for a big intake of air. Still getting used to his new environment and getting familiar with the whereabouts of his blowhole can be tricky! It was incredible to have now had our eighth Humpback cow/calf pod and this is a new record for us this early in the season, we look forward to monitoring possible re-sightings of these pods.

Departing to allow these mothers and calves to continue their morning we quickly noticed the distinctive surfacing of Southern Right Whales and sure enough, there they were! Two gorgeous young adults surfacing side by side and curiously peering back at us. One of the individuals was born a white calf who has grown into the Southern Right predominate colours as she has gotten older, usually these beautiful brindle types are female while the more grey morph tend to be males. It was lovely to meet two new arrivals at the official start of Southern Right Whale season as further individuals arrive and the Right Whales take over Flinders Bay in the South West.

Our afternoon was beautiful with a gentle breeze and calm, rolling sea as we met escort pods cruising around he capes. They journeyed alongside us and seemed content for us to Join The Pod™ as they continued the slow but consistent track towards the Kimberly region. Rounding the cape we had the most beautiful view of the South West and the magnificent wildlife who lives and visits here. Albatross, Gannets and Skua surrounded us as we migrated with the Humpbacks and it was tempting to keep following them up the coast!

We decided to make our way back to the coastline and as we did were greeted with the most beautiful (and heavily pregnant!) Southern Right Whale who was peacefully resting. The birth of her calf will be imminent and she seemed completely at ease and ready, happily awaiting the moment in her peaceful nursery grounds. How exciting it must be for this female who has dedicated thousands of kilometres of travel to find a suitable mate, 11-12 months of gestation to growing her calf and now further thousands of kilometres to arrive in Flinders Bay for the birth of her newborn, such dedication♥️

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