First southern right whale calf of 2020 arrives in Encounter Bay nursery

In exciting news, the first southern right whale calf of the south coast's 2020 season has been confirmed, after an initial sighting in waters off Port Elliot this morning (July 10).

At about 8.30am, sightings suggested one or two southern right whales were present about 300 metres from The Strand, Port Elliot.

Then at 9.30am, Encounter Whales field researcher Debra Prestwood managed a better look and confirmed there were two whales between Freeman's Knob and Pullen Island.

Ms Prestwood suspected a mother with a calf and over the next few hours, footage and photographs were analysed by members of the Encounter Whales group, as sightings continued.

First calf of 2020. Photo: Jenni Wrysta via: Encounter Whales.

First calf of 2020. Photo: Jenni Wrysta via: Encounter Whales.

At 12noon, the whales were confirmed as the first southern right mother and calf pair in the Encounter Bay nursery area for the 2020 whale season.

Encounter Whales spokesperson Elizabeth Steele-Collins said the mood among whale watchers was exuberant.

"We are excited to announce the birth of the first calf for Encounter Bay this season," Ms Steele-Collins said.

"It was hard work for those monitoring the pair as the whales would swim closer to shore only to turn around and swim further out again.

"Besides glimpses of the calf's tiny flippers and tail there was the tell tail curl, indicative of newborn flukes (visible in pictures).

"The mother will need peace and quiet during her stay, so she can be at ease to nurse her newborn calf; and so the pair can bond."

Ms Steele-Collins said she hoped the pair would not be disturbed during their stay in the nursery as the coming months are a particularly "sensitive time".

"Mothers nurture their young in the nursery area, training them up for their long migration back to sub-Antarctic waters."

More information and images to come. Stay tuned to The Times website.

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