Whales at Sea

Southern Right whale mother and calf, Humpback whales behind

Southern Right whale mother and calf (see the blow), Humpback whales behind

We were watching the Southern Right mother and calf this morning, as they cruised lazily in the calm water between Shag Rock and Meringo Headland. We had climbed up onto the rocky foreshore to have a better view, when suddenly the adult whale swam away to the north a little distance, leaving the young one behind. At the same time we noticed a group of Humpback whales frolicking just a bit further out to sea. The Humpbacks included at least one young, who was practising tail slapping, making a jolly spray and no doubt quite a bit of noise. Then just as suddenly the mother returned to the water in front of us, gave a great leap out of the water, spy-hopping, to get a glimpse of the whales for herself. Sadly my camera captured only the splash as she sank back under! Obviously reassured, the mother and calf settled down again, swimming slowly back and forth, and the Humpback pod continued south, blowing, splashing and playing as they went.

whale splash

whale splash

Why is it that our hearts fill with joy and wonder as we watch the whales? My blogger friend Thomas Peace offers this song: “Don’t Kill the Whale,” by the rock group “Yes”, in which these huge mammals are called ‘Heaven Beasts’

You’re first
I’m last
Your thirst
I’m asked to justify
Killing our last heaven beast
Don’t hunt the whale

In beauty
Do we
Offer much
If we reason with destiny, gonna lose our touch
Don’t kill the whale

They sing
They worship their own space
In a moment of love, they will die for their grace
Don’t kill the whale

If time will allow
We will judge all who came
In the wake of our new age to stand for the frail
Don’t kill the whale

mother and young Southern Right whales

mother and young Southern Right whale close to Shag Rock

In my last post on the whales I shared photos of the mother and young on their sides, so the calf could suckle….. so beautifully described in this poem Whale Nation.

Whale Nation 

The first sound a whale calf hears
Is Singing
The mother lifts her new-born calf to the surface,
And then rolls on her side,
Expressing her milk into its mouth with muscles deep inside her breasts:
Twice as rich in protein as human milk,
Richer than clotted cream.
The songs of their escorts
Filter through the water,
The element of baptism,
In which the whale calf is to be perennially immersed.
Should anything untimely happen to it,
Its mother will support her calf upon her back
Until it disintegrates.

Heathcote Williams 


We are so privileged to have this great mother whale give birth off our beach about a week ago! Perhaps in three years time she might return to give birth again. But now she expends all her energy on caring for her new baby. Fortunately these waters are quiet at present, calm seas, unseasonably warm breezes, it all seems perfect. Southern Right whales are normally further south, closer to Antarctica, but in recent years they have been appearing along the coast of NSW again. This may be a good sign that numbers are increasing.

whales and ship

whales and ship

Last image from the silvery sea today … the back of the adult Southern Right whale, tiny dots of the Humpback whales playing on the top left, and the distant ship on the horizon.

This post in response to Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sea and Travel Theme: Distance

18 thoughts on “Whales at Sea

    • thanks Charles, I do wonder if others can distinguish the whales, since we have been watching them we know how they move, but others see only my poor photos … so I appreciate your kind comment .. Christine xx

  1. Can’t imagine how anyone can hurt such magnificent, magical creatures! It is my longstanding dream to see these ‘heaven Beasts’ close up Christine. Hope i get to do that sooner than later.
    Beautiful post.

    • I can just imagine the photos you might get with your big telephoto MJ … I have ordered a tripod which should be here soon … it will help … but I probably need a DSLR with a good lens, as well as lots of practise! Not sure how long this mother will hang around, two weeks I think, so another week to go 🙂

  2. They are truly majestic and intelligent creatures. I’m sure when they are (most unfortunately) hunted… that the mother whale gets in between the hunters and her calf… (in a moment of love).

    Don’t forget to see (and listen) to the additional lyrics by Jon Anderson (of “Yes”) that i mention in my second comment within your Right Whales posting…

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