Super-pods, strange pigmentations and science outreach!

Some really interesting sightings from up the hill this week, including a humpback whale mega-pod, some large blue whale groups, and a pair of extremely-pigmented humpbacks!

On Monday afternoon Angela, Sarah and Chella sighted a large competative pod of humpback whales a few kilometers north-east of Point Picquet.  At first the girls could only see a few splashes in the distance, but these soon moved closer to shore and revealed themselves to be a massive group of 11 humpback whales!  There appeared to be two animals slightly ahead of the others, with the rest of the pod travelling close behind.  We spotted plenty of aggressive behaviours, with lots of splashing and surface activity.  But most interesting was the colouration of two individuals within the pod.  Two adult whales were almost entirely white over their whole peduncle region (from the dorsal fin to the tail flukes).  With such distinctive pigmentation, we are really interested to know if these animals have been sighted before so will be checking through Chris Burton’s database to try and find some re-sights!

This week we have also been seeing groups of blue whales.  Usually solitary animals, in previous seasons we mostly observe blues travelling as individuals, or in mother-calf pairs.  Very occasionally, we would see a mother-calf-escort group, where the mum and bub are accompanied by another adult.  But this year has seen quite a few mum-calf-escort groups, and even a group of three adults and a juvenile yesterday morning!  Very cool!

The SouWEST talk to the Busselton Naturalists Club on Wednesday evening was very successful, with around 40 members turning up to see the presentation about “Whales in Geographe Bay”.  The 45min presentation was followed by a whale Q&A, which had to be brought to an end after an hour despite the fact there will still plenty of questions coming from the audiance!  It was a real pleasure to meet so many people interested in whales and research activities in Geographe Bay.  This coming week, Dr Chandra Salgado Kent will be presenting the results of some acoustic monitoring work on the whales here to the Australian Acoustical Society, at their annual conference in Fremantle, WA.  For more information about this, please visit the new SouWEST Events page!  If you would be interested in having SouWEST present to your group or organisation, please Contact Us!

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