by Wayne Osborn
Winter is whale calving season and the new birthing for humpback whales is up and running in Western Australia. These images of a mother and new born calf were captured during survey work along with The Centre for Whale Research vessel, 'Whale Song' along the WA coast.
Humpback Whale birthing Whale Song Research Vessel Humpback Mum & Calf
(credit: Wayne Osborn) (credit: SWP Media) (credit: Wayne Osborn)
Whale Song is an ice capable vessel recently acquired by CWR and ironically was operating just offshore from the abandoned whaling station Norwegian Bay towards the southern end of Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef. Just as it was when whalers operated from this station, it is an ideal location to observe humpbacks on both the northern and southern legs of their annual migration to Antarctica.
Most humpback calves are born 1200 km further north in the warmer waters of the Kimberley and scientists are concerned that these births may be occurring too early in the migration cycle and will incur high mortalities. This season, two calves have had to be euthanized after becoming separated from their mothers in Ningaloo Reef's shallow lagoons. Orcas (killer whales) have attacked and taken two other calves. It's a wild ride for the newborns and a sad end for some.
Wayne Osborn is a retired electrical engineer and business manager who, along with his wife Pam, participates with Western Australian whale researchers to better understand whale birthing, migration, and population dynamics. Their studies are assisting conservation policies and other efforts to prevent un-intended boat collisions with whales in WA.