Landscape Photographer from the South West of Western Australia


The Southern Right Whales are seen from time to time in Geographe Bay. These endangered whales (their numbers are in the low thousands) were almost hunted to extinction. By the time whaling ceased there were only around 500 left. They are known to “winter” in the bays along the south coast of Australia where the calves are born and fattened up for the long trip back to Antartica.

These whales are also seen in Geographe Bay (on the west coast) over extended periods of time. In 2012 they have been photographed from the end of July until the end of September. In 2011 I have seen photographs of the SRW taken in late October.

I was fortunate enough to capture some images of three Southern Right Whales at the end of September. There was a mother (about 15m long) and a calf, and another whale slightly smaller than the mother. This is not unusual because apparently the females are larger than the males – probably because they have to store up enough fat to fatten up the calves in a very short time. They were drifting along the beach from Meelup towards Castle Rock. At one stage one of them was drifting along close to shore and nearly ran aground. At another point a humpback came up to the Southern Right Whales to investigate.

I saw that they were drifting towards Castle Rock so I positioned myself on top of Castle Rock. As they came past about 30m out I had a grandstand view from a very high vantage point. As they passed me the medium sized whale started to play around. He went ahead, turned around and came back towards the mother (who was floating on her back). There was a lot of touching with flippers, and the calf was staying close to the mother. The playful one turned again and came alongside the mother. At one point the calf became sandwiched between the two and had to dive to escape.

There has been a lot of interest expressed in these high resolution images by the whale watching community, so I am making prints available. These will be printed on an Epson 3880 printer using Epson Photo Paper Gloss 250 paper. The paper and inks are archival quality. For these prints the price will be $100 for a 60cm x 40cm print, or $55 for a 40cm x 27cm print. To order email me at ianw at Other sizes are available.

These images would look stunning on Fitzgerald Photo Imaging’s Alumalux prints. This process prints directly on aluminium and is high gloss, water resistant, and scratch resistant. Please contact me if you are interested.

Here are some samples.

1. A 16 image “composite” sequence produced from selected images of the playing around session.

Play sequence

Any of the individual images in this sequence are available as a print.

2. My favourite.

Southern Right Whales

Mum and Dad are cuddling up and Junior has to get out of the way!

3. Side by Side

Side by side

This is perhaps the best shot of the calf – it normally was very close to mum.

4. Head on

Head on

The “other” adult is coming back to the female. The calf is staying close to mum.

5. Snuggling up

Snuggling Up

Here the smaller adult is coming alongside the larger female.

6. Touchy feely session

Up close

The female is on the right, and is floating upside down. The white patch is on her belly and she is just beginning to roll on her side to face the other whale. You can see the tail of the calf between the two larger whales.

7. Inter species interaction

An interloper

A humpback comes to investigate. Just after this he dived and went on his way.

8. Southern Right Whales in Castle Rock Bay (Little Meelup)
Castle Rock Bay

Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of months in this bay – these whales have more sense than we give them credit for!

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