Southern Right Whales [Eubalaena australis ] have been seen lolling about near the Merimbula wharf[ 2 adults ]and also 300 metres south of the Tura Headland. These were possibly a mother and calf and we watched them while they lazily rolled onto their backs ,with an occasional spyhop and fluke showing until dark.
They were still in the same area the following morning.
Southern Right Whales can be recognised by their broad backs without a dorsal fin,wide pectoral fins,a ” V ” shaped blow and the rough whitish patches [callosities ] on its head.[ see photo ]The callosities are actually keratinised skin and are home to whale lice . Callosities are like a fingerprint and are used to distinguish individual whales.
They are baleen whales& feed on krill,plankton & small crustaceans,these tiny creatures are captured in the baleen bristles as the whales swim along with their mouths open .
Females produce offspring every 3 or 4 years after a gestation period of about 12 months.There is a SR nursery at the head of the Australian Bight where they gather,normally they are fairly solitary animals. In this area Southern Right Whales have been observed giving birth on several occasions 3 years apart, at the same place just off where the old wharf used to be at Bermagui. in 2011 another birth was observed by several people close to Bar Beach at Merimbula.
During whaling days they were considered the ‘right ‘ whale to catch as they are rich in oil & blubber and moved slowly and were easier to catch.