Southern Right Whale
The most common on the South African coast, these whales were known as the 'right' whales to hunt, because they move slowly and float when harpooned making them easy to bring ashore. Heavy exploitation in late 1800s decimated more than 90% of their original numbers. Protection since 1935, has allowed their population to increase.
Barnacles and whale-lice attach themselves to patches of raised rough skin on their heads. Researchers use these to ID individuals.
They are mostly seen between June and December, when females calve in sheltered, sandy-bottomed bays.
For 3 months they remain in the warmer waters of the South African coast where the calves can drink up to 200 litres of milk per day to build up blubber for the long trip to the Antarctic
SOUTHERN WRIGHT WHALE: Eubalaena australis L: 17m W:80t D: All temp Southern Hem Oceans
BREACHING: Leaping out of the water, twisting & crashing back into the sea. Perhaps to dislodge parasites & communicate with other whales.
TAILS LOBS: Lifting the tail out of the water & slamming it down onto the surface making a loud noise.
BLOWING: Whales surface to breathe through nostrils (blowholes) located on the top of the head. Exhaling forms a ‘v' shaped spray called a blow.
SPY HOPPING: Whales' eyes are situated low in the head, so to observe the surroundings they lift the head vertically out of the water.
BODY ROLLS: Sometimes rolling near the surface, females avoid male advances & calves wanting to suckle.
TAIL LIFTS: Lifting the tail just above the surface using the flippers for support, the tail acts as a sail.