Displaced mother and calf resurface, as new pair arrives

Sighted: A whale mother and calf who were displaced from Victoria and then Encounter Bay due to boats, has resurfaced at Sleaford Bay, on the lower Eyre Peninsula. Photo: Marianne Stockham.
Sighted: A whale mother and calf who were displaced from Victoria and then Encounter Bay due to boats, has resurfaced at Sleaford Bay, on the lower Eyre Peninsula. Photo: Marianne Stockham.

A southern right whale mother and calf who were displaced from both Victoria and South Australia due to boat disturbances have surfaced in Sleaford Bay, on the lower Eyre Peninsula.

Whale experts from both states held concerns over the young calf's health, after the pair travelled hundreds of kilometres during the space of only a few weeks.

After being disturbed by boats in both Cape Schanck and Phillip Island, Victoria, they travelled to Portland where the pair were photographed again on July 8.

From there, they left Victorian waters, arriving in Encounter Bay on July 16, where they stayed for less than 12 hours after again being disturbed by a boat.

There were no reported sightings of the mother and calf again, until they resurfaced in Sleaford Bay on July 24, where they have remained settled.

Encounter Whales spokesperson Elizabeth Steele-Collins said it was wonderful to hear the pair had sought refuge in the quieter waters of Sleaford where they could recover.

"After the mother and calf were spooked by a boat and left Encounter Bay, it was a relief when we confirmed the re-sighting of the pair at Sleaford eight days later," Ms Steele-Collins said.

"Those monitoring the pair were able to obtain some clear photo-ID of the whale, which enabled us to confirm it was the same female.

"Thankfully, Sleaford Bay is a much quieter and safer area for the pair. It's a relief to see the mother now relaxed and resting, and there are encouraging signs that the one month old calf now appears to be in better health."

So far this season, there have been three mother and calf pairs in Encounter Bay. The first mother, named 'Mysteri' and her calf are the only pair still in residence.

The second mother and calf, currently now resting in Sleaford Bay, have been photographed there over the past six days.

The third and newest pair, which only arrived on Saturday (July 25) has not been sighted since Monday evening, but there remains a watch out for them in hopes that this mother and calf will return.

Ms Steele-Collins added, that as it is still peak whale season, it is quite possible more mother and calf pairs would come to Encounter Bay.