Whale of a time in Bunbury

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Camera IconCredit: Jon Gellweiler

Three southern right whales entertained a small group of early morning beach walkers at Bunbury’s Clifton Beach this morning.

Members of the public spotted a mother and calf drifting between 50m and 100m offshore about 7.45am.

Camera IconCredit: Jon Gellweiler

Locals Jenny Gleeson and Tom Barr were walking their dog Lila when they spotted the marine giants close to shore.

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“I noticed a fin and thought it was odd that they were in so close,” Miss Gleeson said.

“Jen saw one of them as we walked Lila the puppy,” Mr Barr said.

“The mother whale surfaced and seemed to be protecting the baby from the waves.

Camera IconCredit: Jon Gellweiler

“We stood there for 15 minutes or so watching the whales floating - they weren’t too far off shore.”

Southern right whales can weigh up to 80 tonnes and reach 18m in length and despite being known among whale watchers for their acrobatics, spend much of their time drifting lazily on the surface.

Breeding females usually calve every three years, coming in close to shore and the surf line during winter and early spring to give birth before returning to deeper waters over summer.

Camera IconCredit: Jon Gellweiler

The mother and calf were later joined by a third whale and began to play in the surf, rolling, bobbing and slapping their fins on the surface.

Dolphin Discovery Centre aquarist Jan Tierney said it was not uncommon to see the creatures close to shore.

“During our winter they come to the West Australian coast to breed before heading back to the Antarctic for summer,” she said.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions estimate there to be about 1500 individuals along the southern coast of Australia, with the population recovering at a rate of around 7 per cent a year.

Camera IconCredit: Jon Gellweiler

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