I went out to Meelup and Pt Picquet today. I saw these Southern Right Whales (at least two mother calf pairs) off Castle Rock initially and they slowly moved westwards to Pt Picquet – Eagle Bay. The calves were playing together and it was hard to work out what was happening as sometimes there were two pairs, sometimes an adult on its own. When they got to Pt Picquet one pair was only 20m from the shore and the other pair were another 20m further out.
It was blowing a gale and there were no boats out today. This was fortunate because if the weather was fine, it would have been inevitable that some boats would have gone close up to these whales (which is illegal). The Southern Right mothers with calves are very sensitive to the presence of boats and normally will take off to get away (even though the calves are often so curious they will swim up to the boats before Mum rounds them up). This continuous disturbance of Southern Right Whales is serious because the mothers are looking for a quiet bay to bring up the calf before heading south in summer to the feeding grounds. While they continue to be disturbed it is unlikely we will see large numbers in Geographe Bay.
The Osprey was passing by while I was whale watching. You can see in the whale shots the two juveniles playing around the one mother. The other mother was nearby.
I know this isn’t the best or clearest of photos, but these two baby humpbacks caught my attention.
We have had a big storm here in the SouthWest. One effect of this storm was that on Sunday two baby humpback whales became separated from their mothers and were washed ashore at Lefthanders, just south of Cowaramup. One of these managed to get back out through the raging surf (7-8m waves breaking a long way out). However the other one couldn’t get back out. He kept on trying for hours.
The next day I saw another two baby humpbacks heading north past Cape Naturaliste, and into Geographe Bay. There was no sign of any adults, so they must also have been separated from their mothers in the storm. They seem to have joined up and are off in search of their mums. Without mum they have no source of food, so this is a critical venture.
It is difficult to say what their chances of finding mum are. Never underestimate mother nature. We don’t know much about how they will try to find their mothers but I am hopeful that they know what they are doing. They have made a good start by joining up together, and I think that they are heading in the right direction. Good luck to them.
As a side note it surprised me that there were so many young calves around that were affected by the storm. Normally the female humpbacks go up north to Campden Sound to calve, and bring up their babies (they have to fatten them up before taking them down south to the cold southern waters to the summer feeding grounds). These calves must have been born off Cape Leeuwin. The one in the surf at Lefthanders was less than two weeks old by the look of him. The storm had a devastating effect on these whales who didn’t make the trip north in time for the babies arrival.