Today was wet, cold (by Dunsborough standards), and at times windy. I went out to Pt Picquet to get out of the house and was rewarded by seeing a humpback whale and calf go past only 100m out from the shore. Nice, but no photos – it was raining and they didn’t put much above the surface. Still it was good to see as it is the start of the annual southern migration. Then the sun came out, and I got this double rainbow.
Then I went out on the west coast. I got some dolphin surfing shots, but there are many better on this blog, so I won’t post them. It is always nice to see them though. On my way home I met this guy – he wasn’t at all concerned I was close by. I love the red colour of the rocks – it is caused by a lichen that grows on the rocks.
After that I saw some Southern Right Whales just south of Cape Naturaliste. Too far away to photograph.
All in all a pretty nice wet wintry Sunday.
I went to Meelup today and saw these Southern Right Whales. These are rare, and endangered – estimates are that there are fewer than 4-5000 worldwide. They move north from May-June on because the calves when born have no fat and wouldn’t survive the Antartic waters. Southern Right Whales must have more blubber than humpbacks because they don’t go as far north as the humpbacks. They can’t stand the heat, and most go to the Great Australian Bite. Some come north into Geographe Bay and they are very special. It is extremely rare for them to be sighted north of Rottnest, although one was seen at Cottesloe beach a week ago.
If these whales are rare then this calf is even rarer – it is mostly white. I am told it is not an albino as it is not completely white. But it is a Southern WHITE whale.
When they come into Geographe Bay they seem to play (or chase baitfish). These two were playing for a long time in Castle Rock Bay until they were disturbed by the whale watching boat. The boat did nothing wrong – maintained the correct distances etc, but the whales were disturbed and moved off towards Dunsborough past Castle Rock. As I was on top of Castle Rock waiting for them I can’t complain, but it is worrying that everytime these whales settle in, they get disturbed.
Here are some closeups.
On Monday this humpback decided to start breaching just in front of the whale watching boat. He kept this up for nearly an hour breaching around 25 times in a row. The people on the whale watching boat certainly got their moneys worth. (These images were shot from shore at a distance of 2-3 kms, so they obviously are not as sharp as the shots of the Southern Right whales which were only about 50m away!)
I went down to Wyadup this evening to try for a shot with the stars in the sky. However when I got there there were about 20 whales going past. They appeared to be a lot of humpback calves and a few mums. The calves were having fun practising breaching. (I will post the result of the star shots later).
These are magnificent creatures. When I went to school in this area we never saw whales. They were killed before they got past Albany. Eventually whaling ceased, but only when the estimated number of whales (probably humpbacks) left was less than the whaling company’s annual catch. In other words if they hadn’t stopped then they probably would have within a couple of months due to lack of whales. It is fantastic to be able to see the numbers increasing each year, and just to be able to go down to the coast and see sights like this. I hope they never again get hunted to the brink of extinction.