Humpbacks and southern right whales out in force off the WA coast

Sun Online Desk

2nd July, 2018 01:51:58 printer

Humpbacks and southern right whales out in force off the WA coast

Western Australia's whale populations appear to be in step with their east coast counterparts with large pods of humpbacks coming within metres of spectators off the southern coastlines.


At Cheynes Beach near Albany, 98 whales were counted during daylight hours over the weekend, with the sightings fed into the national whale census currently underway.


Further up the coast near Augusta in the state's south-west whale watchers witnessed five humpbacks breaching an incredible six times within sixty seconds.


Marine biologist Bianca Uyen also witnessed a close encounter between whale watchers and frisky humpbacks at Flinders Bay when the giant mammals came within metres of spectators' vessel.


"They were so close that you could see the tiny little hairs the mammals have on their rostrum and their chins," Ms Uyen said.


"It was incredible.


Although it was not uncommon for females to give birth before their final destination, Ms Uyen said most endured a full-term pregnancy until reaching the warmer waters off Broome on the north-west coast of WA.


"You do see some premature calves but it is dangerous if they are born at such an early stage," Ms Uyen said.


"It is really vital that their mother stays with them and doesn't abandon them if they are born."


South coast sightings


Local caravan park proprietor, Joanne Marsh, said 98 whales including humpbacks and southern right whales were counted passing the coast off Cheynes Beach near Albany over a 10 hour period.


"We also had a report of a southern right and baby off the beach, which is a first for the area."


Albany-based marine biologist, Kirsty Mary Alexander, said the large number of sightings augured well for the national census and the preservation of locations where whales are sighted.


"The more we know, the better we can do," Ms Alexander said.


"If we know that an area is something the mammals use a lot we can make better decisions in protecting that area so they can continue to use it."