Planning (DELWP) has confirmed sightings of the first southern right whale calf of the season.
DELWP has reviewed photographs of the calf and its mother, taken near Portland over three days last month.
DELWP natural environment programs officer Mandy Watson said that as southern right whale numbers were so few and the calves were so rare, every new addition to the critically endangered population was exciting.
“At this stage, we believe the mother is new to our Southern Right Whale Photo Identification Catalogue, which contains more than 3,000 images, identifying more than 380 individual whales.
“This is a preliminary assessment, and we’re hoping that it can be confirmed by future images.
“We’re expecting the pair to remain in the area for some time yet, as after giving birth, mothers are known to stay in the same coastal area for several months.
“The mothers survive on their thick blubber layers while they nurse, allowing time for the calves to grow and become strong enough for a migration to the feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean.”
As of July 6, other confirmed sightings include:
- A southern right whale near Phillip Island, two southern right whales near Bridgewater and three southern right whales near Portland on July 3
- A southern right whale near Logans Beach on July 2, and
- Two separate sightings of three southern right whales near Portland on July 1
Ms Watson said that as southern right whale calves were generally born in June, they’re hoping more calves might arrive in the Logans Beach nursery area over the coming weeks.
“While two calves per whale season is the average for Logans Beach, last year we had a record seven calves arrive in coastal waters around Warrnambool, so it’s difficult to predict how the breeding season will go.”
If you’ve seen a whale along the coastline, email firstname.lastname@example.org, providing photos, a date, time, location, description of the whales and their behaviour, and your contact details.