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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Southern Right Whales at Dalmeny (near Narooma, NSW)

Regular readers will know that I am fond of "threatened species" - even big, fat, wet and slippery ones. So, as with other "out of area" reports I will post this, even thought they are not from Robertson. They are probably moving north up along the Shoalhaven or Illawarra Coast as I write - and that's close enough for me. 
Special pleading for a rare sighting.

My brother, Brendan has sent me a set of images of three Southern Right Whales, close in to the shore, at a place he refers to as "Josh's Beach" at Dalmeny, near Narooma, NSW.
Close to shore - a Southern Right Whale just visible here.
As explained on that linked site (above) these Whales were nearly hunted to extinction in Australian waters by the 1840s, and have only recovered in numbers slowly since we decided to protect them. These days they are on the "IUCN Red List" of endangered species (albeit in the "of least concern" category),

Brendan's accompanying note explains the background to his "sighting" and why he was excited by the "encounter". Fair enough, too!
  • "Three Southern Right Whales took up station (on Monday 11 July 2011) off the northern rocks at Josh's beach for a couple of hours late this morning.  They were as close as 30 metres off the rocks and they stayed there for a couple of hours - more than enough time for me to go home, get binoculas and a camera and get a couple of shots.  Not good enough for Australian Geographic but good enough to identify the animals.
  • "I have never seen Southern Right Whales before.  They are quite different to Humpbacks.  In fact the photos I sent you are good enough to identify the species.  The shape of the side fin and the bump on the nose are visible and diagnostic. There are heaps of data and photos on the Net. 
Click on the image to see the details.
Southern Right Whales (3). (Note the lumps on the nose)
  • "They are large (16 m or 60 foot) and fat and go up to 80 tonnes.  They only swim about 3 km/hour and because of their lack of speed, because they swim inshore and because they had a high oil content they were the "Right" whale to hunt.  As a result "we" pushed them to the brink of extinction by 1835.  They were one of the first animals ever to be protected by law - Tasmania - if you can call that law, in 1840.
  • "They were in close.  In fact (back in March) Lindsay and I snorkelled pretty much where the Whales were (this week)."
Plant branch on lower right of image shows how close they were.
Three Southern Right Whales - one waving its flipper.
Here is another link to show you more information about these Southern Right Whales.


Le Loup said...

Good to know there are still some around. We can't protect our land animals from loss of habitat let alone protect whales that have no boundries.
Good pics, thank you.
Regards, Keith.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Keith.
We need to persuade the Japanese to F*** Off, and leave all the Whales alone.

Flabmeister said...

On our recent Northern foray we saw lotza humpbacks at Fingal's Head, Lennox Head and Seal Rocks Lighthouse. All of course moving North. In nearly all cases they were in pods which is indicative of females and calfs. Apparently the mature males tend to travel singly.

At the last point an unusually helpful sign from the NPWS explained that the species can be identified by the shape of the 'blow'. The humpback has a single spout while the Southern Right has a double jet which is perhaps the vapouristic equivalent of giving the V-sign to the whaling nations (I don't want to let the Norwegians and Icelanders off the hook (sic)).

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Martin.
And yes I had overlooked the Noggies and the Icelanders.
These things are defenceless and way too trusting of human kind.
Glad that NPWS had a good sign to help you pick the differences.
One thing is clear from the illustrations that these guys have a flat back whereas the Humpie has a small fin set well back along its spine, and the back seems to bend from that point.
Brendan commented that they were in at a point where he goes snorkelling in the summer. That's really close in - for a whale.