Photographer Ian Wiese captures whale calf burping off Eagle Bay

Dunsborough photographer Ian Wiese captured an incredible image of a Southern right whale calf burping off Eagle Bay last week.

Mr Wiese said the mother was feeding her calf about 350 metres off Eagle Bay and stayed for about 20 minutes at a time and the calf was under her in a feeding position. 

“It also burped about six times while I was videoing them, and each time released an enormous bubble of gas,” he said. 

“The two of them spent most of the day in Eagle Bay.

“This year another mother calf pair stayed in the area for nearly three weeks. They were relatively undisturbed because of the poor boating weather we had in late August and September.”

Mr Wiese said it has been a great year for Southern right whales sightings with triple the amount of previous years.

He said the Southern right whales were still critically endangered and had not experienced the rapid recovery in numbers of the humpbacks.

“They normally migrate in winter to the Great Australian Bite, and as the numbers grow they are spreading around the corners – Albany, Augusta, and now Geographe Bay,” he said.

“The pregnant females give birth and then raise their calves. They have to fatten them up to prepare them for the return to the cold Antarctic waters over summer.

“They look for the small bays such as we find in Geographe Bay where they can relax, feed the calf, and protect it against predators.

“The mothers are accompanied by single adults and for them it is party time.” 

Mr Wiese said unfortunately in Geographe Bay the mother calf pairs usually left the area because they were disturbed by boats, paddleboarders, and jet skis.

He said in contrast, the single adults were often curious and would sometimes approach boats.  

“Everyone should try to leave the mother calf pairs undisturbed and we will be rewarded by even more of these magnificent whales,” he said.

“Usually the Southern right whales were black with white patches. However in Australian waters perhaps two to three calves a year were seen which were predominantly white (or actually a cream color), with black patches.

“As they age the cream color becomes grey so they become grey with black patches.”

Mr Wiese is often photographing marine life off the coastline, he said the colour did not seem to be heredity as he saw the white calf with a predominantly black mother.

“In this case it appears that the mother was also a white calf and was now grey with white patches,” he said.