I was sitting on some sharp rocks watching these wonderful Fur Seals basking in the calm water, warming their flippers and tails in the sun. They simply float, hanging out together, rising and falling in the slow low swell. Languorous is the word that occurs to me! I was thinking about the Southern Right whale I saw right in close to our beach a few days ago. I wondered if she was a mother with a new calf. Then right on cue I noticed a whale approaching from the south, perhaps the same one. She cruised slowly right past the seals, with a few dolphins lazily playing around in her wake. I was reaching bliss point! Then as if by magic another adult rose to the surface, right beside the seals!
Rather than hanging out with the seals the whales headed for the centre of the bay. I watched for a while, then suddenly remembered I had brought the car down, and left it open with keys in the ignition in the carpark! A long story, goes like this …. walked to the beach without the camera, saw the seals, went back to house, grabbed camera, hurried back to beach, clambered over rocks, turned camera on, only to read “change the battery pack” …. duh! So after returning to the house I chose to drive around to the carpark, hoping the seals were still posing so beautifully for me. Perhaps I should at least grab my keys! Of course my car was still the only one in the carpark so all was well. Then the whales, now a long way away, began to roll over, showing their large rectangular pectoral fins.
Impressive isn’t it? I could barely see them, but took some more photos and returned to the house to download the 72 images I had just acquired. To my delight it became obvious there was at least one calf with the two adults.
if you look closely you can see the small fin belonging to the baby right in front of the large pectoral fin on the left! The mother and calf were both rolling to the side at the same time, probably so that the baby could suckle. The whales blew a few times, then came a fantastic loud “hough” sound, filling the large beach/bay and reverberating from the rocky surfaces. Quite extraordinary! And are you curious, like me to see the rest of the whale, hidden by the ocean? This image may help …
Right whales were given their name because they were the right whales to hunt and kill. By the 1840’s the species had been hunted out all over the world. Numbers have been recovering very slowly, although there may be less than 400 Northern Right whales in existence, it is estimated there are about 5,000 Southern Right whales in the world. Vessel strike and entanglement in fishing nets are their two greatest dangers since whale hunting ended. We are privileged to see them here, where they are relatively safe from motor boats and other hazards.