Rare white whale calf spotted

Local whale watcher Lloyd Edwards took this picture of a female southern right whale with a a rare white calf in tow yesterday.

Lloyd says he was tipped off about the whales by Imelda O’Reilly, who lives above Brook’s Hill.

“She informed me that there was a southern right whale breaching just off King’s Beach. My Dutch visitors were delighted by the news and we sped off and exited the port. As soon as we rounded the breakwater we could see the tell-tale V shaped blow of a huge southern right whale.

“I could not believe my eyes when I saw a brilliant white calf trailing in its mothers wake. The mother would let out a thunderous blow followed by tiny little puff from the new-born calf.

“The first white calf I saw was off the Swartkops River in 2002 and another off Hougham Park in 2009 but they were nowhere as white as this one.

“I saw two southern rights on Sunday after a tip off from Louis van Aardt of Pro dive but neither of them had a calf in tow. Judging by its size and the way it was swimming I reckon it must have been born last night or the night before.

“Calves are 4.5 to 6 metres at birth. Although I have seen calves born as early as mid-July in previous years, this is the normal time for giving birth and mating.

“During the first three months of its life the calf will grow up to 2,8cm per day, relying on its mother’s nutritious supply of milk. At eight metres long it will strong enough to make the 2000km journey to their feeding grounds at about 50 to 55 degrees south.

“This calf is not an albino as its colour will vary with age, eventually becoming a slightly darker grey which is referred to as brindled. Only about 3% of calves born are white and they are nearly always male.

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