SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALES- THE GENTLE PLAYFUL GIANTS
Whale Watching - Sunshine Coast Afloat

The Southern Right Whales is another species you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of on the Sunshine Coast! This whale is the rarest of the four species you’ll find in Queensland’s waters and is currently considered endangered. The good news is, their population is on the rise meaning sightings are becoming more and more common! Here’s what to look out for on your whale watching tour.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • Adult Southern Right Whales range from 14-18 metres in length
  • These large animals weigh up to 80 tonnes – that’s the equivalent of 8 adult elephants
  • Their mating season is from June – August, which is when there’ll be the greatest chance of spotting on one the Sunshine Coast
  • Compared to other whale species, their heads is disproportionately large, making up roughly one third of the whale’s body.
  • Unlike other species, the southern right whale does not have a dorsal fin.
  • They have a dark greyish/black skin tone, with white patches on its throat and belly.
  • The exact lifespan of these animals is unknown, but it’s estimated to be between 50-100 years

BEHAVIOUR

  • Like the humpback and dwarf minke, the Southern Right Whales also primarily feed on krill, plankton and other tiny crustraceans.
  • Their migration patterns are similar to that of the humpback, spending their feeding season in the colder Antarctic waters, and migrating north up Queensland’s coast for mating and birthing.
  • These whales are skimmers and can be seen swimming at or near the surface of the water – this is great for whale watchers!
  • Southern Right whales are fairly active and can be found performing acrobatics in the water
  • They’re a very social species, and have been known to approach boats and vessels to observe them and the people.
  • But they’re also gentle giants, appearing to be thoughtful when interacting with humans and small animals by limiting their activity, to ensure they do not cause injury to others.
  • Unlike other species, male whales to not typically fight with one another or show jealousy when it comes to mating.

 

With as few as 12,000 Southern Right Whales spread through our oceans, they are the rarest of the whales you’ll likely spot in the Sunshine Coast’s waters. But, with their population on the rise and sightings becoming increasingly common, your chances of seeing these playful giants are better than ever before! Keep your eyes peeled  – they’ve even been known to swim as close in as the surf zone!

 

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Jerry van Driel-Vis