We are starting to see some whales.
I originally found this mother-calf pair of Southern Right Whales at the Other Side of the Moon (a surf break just south of Cape Naturaliste). I think these were the pair seen in Dunsborough and Meelup yesterday. (These are an endangered species and we see a few coming around Cape Naturaliste each year). They were moving very slowly south, but enjoying a few waves even though they weren’t very good at it. A pod of dolphins were keeping them company.
They slowly moved south eventually reaching Sandpatches (the bay just north of Sugarloaf Rock). The dolphins met up with the pair again, and encouraged the calf to follow them closer inshore. They seemed to be interacting with the calf. Mum followed the calf. The calf enjoyed the surf but really didn’t get this surfing thing.
So the dolphins gave some demonstrations.
At one point a dolphin started flapping its tail on the surface.
The calf thought this was a good idea and began flapping its pectoral fin.
Some attempts at surfing didn’t go well.
The dolphins were close by offering advice. This is mum in the foreground and she has a white blaze on her back – something I haven’t seen before.
By this time the calf was getting into it. Mum is there as well.
But mum and the calf kept missing the waves. I don’t think they could accelerate fast enough.
More lessons from the dolphins were in order.
The calf appreciated the advice.
And tried again.
But no matter how hard they tried mother and calf could not catch a wave.
The dolphins stayed with the pair of whales for about 5 hours.
This was an amazing experience. Tourists were taking selfies and ignoring what was happening just offshore. And a cold wind came in from the north – eventually I had to leave to avoid having my joints seize up! They were still playing together when I left.
I went to Sandpatches this morning. A pod of 20 or more dolphins were playing in the surf. After watching them for a while I decided that they were going to stay in the area for some time and it was worth climbing down to the beach. Often when I do this I find that just as I get to the beach the dolphins are disappearing. Today they stayed and it is no wonder. There was lots of touchy-feely behavior going on, and it seemed the boys were chasing the girls. When this happens they also seem to enjoy catching a few waves, and today was no exception. My suspicions about the boy – girl behavior were confirmed when I saw these photographs. It seemed the boys were excited. You can see what I mean here.
In between chasing girls the dolphins managed to catch a wave or two. Hmm – not that much different from the human surfers.
The dolphins were at Yallingup today and eventually decided that this wave was worth catching.
All the top surfers are here for the Margaret River Pro. Here is a local getting some practice.
This was taken at Sandpatches. For some reason the dolphins have been avoiding Sandpatches this year although I frequently photograph them at other places up and down the coast. Perhaps there has been no food in this bay?
Since December I have rarely seen the dolphins at Sandpatches. I haven’t been able to get out there as much as normal, but even allowing for this they seem to have moved elsewhere. From time to time over the last five years they have done this but never for such a long time. I am guessing the food was more plentiful somewhere else.
Today they were swimming along the beach feeding, and then they would loop around for another sweep along the beach. This one decided to go for a quick surf.
At Pt Picquet we often see whales (Humpbacks, Blue whales and Southern Right whales) pass very close to shore. Usually it is an inquisitive calf who lures mum in. I suppose the calves must get bored swimming thousands of kilometres in the open ocean. The following images were taken while flying a drone under a research permit.