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Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Eubalaena australis

The southern right whale is a second species of baleen whale often observed off the coastline of Western Australia. Despite similarities with the humpback whale, this species is distinguishable by its darker colouration, shorter (stumpier) fins, and the absence of the dorsal ridge on their backs compared to the humpbacks. The southern right whale grows to around 18 meters in length, weighing a maximum of 18 tonnes. Southern right whales like the humpback, annually migrate however remain in more southern waters- not moving as far north due to their calves having thicker blubber stores at birth, allowing them to withstand the cooler water at a younger age. This species in the past was heavily overexploited through commercial whaling, however since the cessation of hunting activity (1978 in Australia), population numbers have improved. The southern right whale remains classified as endangered.

 

Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:

Southern right whales are occasionally seen from the Busselton Jetty during the whale migration season. Like the humpbacks, this species is well known for resting in coastal bays including the Geographe Bay, with individuals often observed from the shoreline in Busselton and Dunsborough. In 2015, a juvenile southern right whale was filmed swimming through the Jetty within a kilometre from shore, this surprising many onlookers walking the Jetty at the time.

Image by: S. Daniels