- Habitat & ecology
- Genetic Research
- Photo Identificattion
- DEPI sightings database
- Aerial Surveys
- Management actions
- Seasonal Summary
- 2015 whale sightings
- 2016 whale sightings
- 2016 photo ID results
|Southern Right Whale|
|World:||least concern (IUCN)|
|Australia:||endangered (EPBC Act)|
|FFG:||listed (Action Statement No.94)|
The Southern Right Whale Eubalaena australis is a species which has been brought to the brink of extinction in the first half of the 19th Century due to commercial whaling. It is the only member of the family Balaenidae in the Southern Hemisphere, although it is closely related to two northern hemisphere species (Eubalaena japonica and Eubalaena glacialis) but it is reproductively isolated by geographic separation of calving grounds and asynchronous breeding seasons.
The Southern Right Whale is one of the mysticete or baleen group of whales but does not have the pleated throat and ventral groves that are a feature of whales in the family Balaenopteridae.
The Southern Right Whale has an average length of 16m (weighing about 50 tonnes) and a distinctive, bulky blue-black or dark brown rotund body, which features obvious white markings (callosities) around the mouth, above the eyes and on top of the head. The pattern of these skin growths is unique to each animal and is used for photo identification of individual whales.
The Southern Right Whale has circumpolar distribution in the Southern Hemisphere occurring between latitudes of approx. 30-60 0S, they are known to occur in coastal waters of South America, South Africa, New Zealand and some oceanic islands but populations of Southern Right Whales in Australia are genetically distinct from other southern hemisphere populations.
In Australia, Southern Right Whales are recorded along the southern coastline from Perth to Sydney including Tasmania. The National Conservation Management Plan for Southern Right Whale 2011 - 2021 recognises two genetically distinct Australian stocks, South Eastern Australian and South Western Australian..
In 2008 the entire the population which spans across the Southern Hemisphere was estimated to be 7500 with up to 2100 frequenting Australian waters (DEWHA 2007, IUCN 08). In 2012 the overall Australian Southern Right Whale population (South-west and South-east) was estimated to be 3,500 (National Conservation Management Plan for Southern Right Whale 2011 - 2021).
It was thought that the many of the populations across the Southern Hemisphere had had a general overall increase of about 7% per year but the status of the south-east Australia population (Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales) appears not to have exhibited the same rate of increase, placing them in a more vulnerable situation. The South-western Australian population is currently estimated at 2,900 and the South-eastern population only 200 - 300 whales.
In Australia, Southern Right Whales have an annual migration between summer feeding grounds in the sub-antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean to more temperate inshore waters inshore waters off the coast of southern Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and occasionally New South Wales.
During what is termed the 'over-wintering months' (May to November) they have a tendency to frequent certain coastal areas where localised aggregations occur and during this time breeding, calving and rearing of young takes place. It is estimated that 95% of the total Australian population over-winters at the head of the Great Australian Bight in South Australia.
Through the development of marine bioregional plans, Biologically Important Areas (BIAs) have been identified for southern right whales. These are areas are important for the conservation of protected species and are considered to support biologically-important behaviours of the Southern Right Whale e.g. calving, foraging, resting or migration. Thirteen Southern Right Whale coastal aggregation areas have been identified in Australia, three of which are in Victoria (Portland, Port Fairy/Warrnambool and Port Campbell/Peterborough). The Port Fairy/Warrnambool area is identified as an established small BIA and the Portland and Port Campbell area identified as emerging BIA’s.
Aggregations of Southern Right Whales in Australia
|Source: National Conservation Management Plan for Southern Right Whale 2011 - 2021).|
The Southern Right Whale is thought to have about a 60 year life span. Following mating the gestation period is about 11-12 months, pregnant cows give birth to one calf (about 5.5 meters in length) once every three years. Lactating females fast for at least four months while providing milk for calves. Southern Right Whales are not known to feed in Australian waters, their feeding grounds are further south (40-600 S) but rarely observed near the Antarctic pack-ice. They feed primarily on copepods and post-lavae of Munida gregaria and occasionally the larger Euphausia sp. krill, but are not considered to compete against other baleen whales for food.
The waters east of Warrnambool known as Logans Beach have proven to be a regular site where calving and rearing takes place. It could be considered the only true nursery area in Australian waters. Females show a strong fidelity for frequenting calving sites. Whales can arrive from May onwards and females with young can remain in this nursery area up until October or early November. At present it is not known why this area or other favoured areas are repeatedly chosen and what factors constitutes suitable habitat at these sites.
Southern Right Whales were hunted close to extinction; the Australian industry reached its peak in 1837 and was considered to be in a state of collapse by 1840. Continued hunting in the summer feeding grounds further reduced the population to a point where it became extremely rare and no longer commercially viable, by 1935 it was protected by an international agreement at which time the worldwide population was estimated to be only about 1000 animals.
The slow but steady recovery in recent years is promising, however a number of new threats have emerged since the cessation of whaling for this species. Threats can impact on both individual whales and to some extent the broader population as humans develop more innovative and intense ways of utilising marine ecosystems. Current threats include; noise from marine industries such as gas and oil off-shore exploration and development, entanglement in commercial fishing gear, interference in nursery areas form unmanaged eco-tourism, collision with ships, ingestion of pollutants from oil spills and marine debris such as plastics. Changes to marine ecosystems and potential impacts on the availability of suitable plankton for food may emerge as issues related to global warming.
Management Actions applicable to Victoria
|Taking biopsy samples under strict conditions to determine genetic differentiation.|
There is now evidence of significant differentiation between South Africa, South America, Australia (WA) and New Zealand haplotype and nucleotype levels (Patenaude et al 2007). Further genetic work between 2001 – 2009 involved data collection from South Eastern Australia which was coordinated by DEPI with support of state and commonwealth funding (AMMC).
Analysis of mitochondrial DNA from 56 samples from New Zealand, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales found:
- Levels of genetic diversity in the South East Australian population was high and comparable with South West Australia
- There are significant difference in mt DNA between South East and South West Australia and New Zealand
- The amount of differentiation between the two Australian populations is greater than either compared with New Zealand
(Carroll et al 2011)
In 2014, further work was carried out with an expanded sample size (94 whales) which also included Tasmania. Preliminary results indicate a confirmed significant mt DNA differentiation between South East and South West populations and differences between states detected using microsat data which is being investigated further.
|Features used in photo identification, based on terms used by (Bannister 1990).|
Each Southern Right Whale has its own unique pattern of white markings (callosities) covering the head area which is used for photo identification (see diagram, based on Bannister 1990). There are four major identification catalogues in Australasia, (South-east Australia, Head of Great Australian Bight, Western Australia and New Zealand). Workshops are held every two to three years at which time photos are matched to assess population size, structure and movement.
The South-eastern Southern Right Whale photo-identification catalogue was established in 2002. It is a multi-government agency project which is co-ordinated by DEPI, Warrnambool. The project is supported by Commonwealth and State based threatened species funding.
Whale identification flights are conducted opportunistically from South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales. Images are stored in Southeast Australia Southern Right Whale Photo Identification Catalogue (SEA SRW PIC). The project also uses the BigFish© system developed for the South Australian government. It is an Access Database with photo-ID matching facility (CodeCompare) based on a system designed in USA. The catalogue holds over 3000 images - primarily dorsal view comprising of 305 individual whales.
|Examples of individual whales which have been identified by matching the unique pattern of white markings (callosities) covering the head area over repeated seasons. Source: SEA SRW PIC Catalogue - Warrnambool.|
Key findings from photo ID:
- There are a small number of regular breeding females identified from Logans Beach (less than 15).
- There are very few long-range movements detected within the South-east region
- Three between New South Wales and Victoria
- Two between Tasmania and Victoria
- One between Victoria and South Australia
- One between western Victoria and Gippsland
- 2016 photo ID results
Sightings of whales have been carried out by the DEPI at Warrnambool since 1985. Between 1985 to 2012, 69 calves have been born at Logans Beach, Warrnambool with an average of 2 per year. The most born in one year was 6 calves in 1985. Records indicate no discernible increasing trend. These results combined with the photo identification work suggests that the South-eastern population is small, isolated and therefore very vulnerable compared to other populations which have recorded a 7% increase per year.
Across Victoria, the location of whale sightings is highly variable and usually with a short residency period. The areas of highest density are Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool (Logans Beach), Port Campbell Peterborough.
The majority of first sightings in western Victoria1 occur in May (54%) and June (42%). The majority of last sightings in western Victoria occur in September (50%) and October (38%) but there may be an increasing trend towards October with last sightings occurring in 7 out of last 10 years in October.
The earliest sighting on record was at Portland on 22 April 2006. The latest sighting on record was also at Portland on 27 October 2010.
|An unusual sighting of a 'white' Southern Right Whale off Port Fairy 27 July 2011 taken by Mandy Watson, DEPI, Warrnambool as part of the Victorian Whale monitoring program.|
Cow and calf pairs (records 2001 - 2011)
The first full population surveys of the South-east Australian region to obtain abundance estimates commenced in August 2013 and were conducted privately by Balaenidae. These surveys used the same methodology which has been used in South-west Australia since the 1970’s.
The aerial surveys involve long coastal flights conducted between Ceduna and Sydney including Tasmania over 7 days to count numbers of Southern Right Whales. A population model is based on the number of cow/calf pairs and assumes;
- each reproductive female is recorded on the coast only once in 3 years
- sex ratio of the population is 1:1
- ratio of immature to mature is 1.41:1- based on the 1998 Cape Town assessment meeting estimate (IWC, 2001)
The 2013 total population estimate was 189 (assuming same numbers of females each year for 3 years) or adjusted to 201 (assuming contiguous with WA). A 2014 survey was completed but the data has not yet been collated.
A minimum of 3 years survey is required to obtain a more accurate snapshot of population abundance.
The Conservation Management Plan for the Southern Right Whale 2011 – 2021 states that 'conservation management for Southern Right Whales needs to be based around the existence of two populations in Australian waters with different recovery rates'. This emphasises the poor recovery of the South-eastern Southern Right Whale population and the need to do more to secure its long term future.
Collaborate with national investigations into population structure and movement, including DNA sampling and photographic identification of individuals annually.
- Enlist the support of the wider community including fishermen in reporting of the location of whales to assist photo-id missions, monitoring and entanglement management.
- Monitor and record whale sightings at Logans Beach with particular emphasis on arrival, calving and departure dates.
- Monitor whales during season for possible entanglements with fishing gear and marine debris.
- Enforce the provisions of the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Wildlife (Whales) Regulations 1998 governing whale-watching activities and thus achieve greater protection from human disturbance.
- Implementation of Logans Beach exclusion zone between 1 June and 31 October each year where all vessels are banned from the area which is used for calving and rearing of juvenile whales.
- Conduct annual disentanglement training.
- Provide information to coastal shipping management to ensure it is aware of the potential for whale-ship collisions during the early winter and late spring migration seasons.
- Prepare & implement media releases at both state and local levels, to ensure that the public is informed about threats to the species. Provide and maintain up-to-date displays & interpretation material as required.
- Negotiate the incorporation of protection measures for the species in development proposals particularly off-shore oil and gas exploration.
- Develop guidelines and policy for the protection of whales from impact of noise in Victorian coastal waters, including drilling and seismic testing and development of infrastructure such as drilling platforms, pipe laying and associated shipping.
- Provision of viewing platforms at Logans Beach to facilitate land based viewing of whales.
- Bannister, J.L. (1990). Southern Right Whales off Western Australia. Southern Right Whale aerial survey and photo-identification, southern Australia.
- Carroll, E., Patenaude, N., Alexander, A., Steel, D., Harcourt, R., Childerhouse, S., Smith, S., Bannister, J., Constantine, R., Scott Bake, C.,(2011) Population structure and individual movement of southern right whales around New Zealand and Australia Marine Ecology Progress Series Vol 432, pp 257-268.
- DEH (2005), Southern Right Whale Recovery Plan 2005 –2010, Dept. Environment & Heritage, Canberra.
- DEWHA (2007), Department of the Environment, Water, Hetitage and the Arts, Species profile and threats database
- IUCN,(2008) Red List of threatened species, species No. 8153.
- Menkhorst, P. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Oxford University Press.
- National Conservation Management Plan for Southern Right Whale 2011 - 2021) Department of Environment, Australian Government.
- Southern Right Whale, Action Statement No.94, Flora and Fauna Guarantee, Dept. Sustainability & Environment, Victoria (pdf)
- Warneke, R.M. (1995), Southern Right Whale: In Mammals of Victoria: distribution, ecology and conservation, Ed. Menkhorst, P.W., published by Oxford University Press.
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora & Fauna
- Convention of Migratory Species
- DEH guidelines for assessment approvals re seismic marine noise PDF
- International Fund for Animal Welfare defending whales
- International Whaling Commission
- National Guidelines for Cetacean Observation & Areas of Special Interest for Cetacean Observation
- Humpback Whale
- Southern Right Whale
|Minimum distances for approaching whales, dolphins and seals in Victoria|
|Swimmer or Surfer||Recreational Vessel||Jet Ski||Aircraft|
|Dolphin||30 m||100 m||300 m||#500 m|
|Whale||50 m||200 m||300 m||#500 m|
|Seal on land 30 m|
#Licensed marine mammal tour operators can approach within 300 m with aircraft.
Special protections zones exist at several sites along the Victorian coastline which have more stringent minimum distances regulated under the WILDLIFE (MARINE MAMMALS) REGULATIONS 2009
Note: photographs used on this page were taken under permit and with the use of high magnification telephoto lens to comply with whale watching regulations.
Highlights of whale sightings between 23 July to 17 August 2011
This summary of sightings between 23 July to 17 August 2011 was compiled from information provided by Mandy Watson, Senior Natural Resource Management Officer - Biodiversity, Department Sustainability and Environment, 78 Henna St Warrnambool 3280, Phone: (03) 55619961. Contact Mandy Watson for more detailed daily reports.
The Warrnambool Whale Watch Volunteer Project was made possible with the assistance of 22 volunteers.
The first sighting of a Southern Right Whale off Victoria's south west coastline for 2011 was 10 May at Logans Beach near Warrnambool.
Between 23 July and 17 August there have been many sightings of Southern Right Whales along the south-west coast of Victoria. Several sighting have included cow and calf pairs. Sightings are likely to continue until the end of October, possibly into early November.
Between 23 July and 18 August 2011 a cow and calf pair has been sighted virtually every day at Logans Beach, Warrnambool. Between 12 -17 August there was also another single sub-adult Southern Right Whale present.
Other interesting dates
- 23 July - Logans Beach; 3 x Southern Right Whales (including 1 x cow and calf pair and regular 'Big Lips')
- 23 July - 27 Jul -Port Fairy Bay; up to 6 Southern Right Whales including one grey
- 27 July - Codrington; 2 x Southern Right Whales
- 27 July - Portland; 1 x Southern Right Whale
- 28 July - Logans Beach; 4 x Southern Right Whales (including 1 x cow and calf pair and 2 adults)
- 30 July - Logans Beach 1 x Humpback Whale heading east
- 2 Aug - Port Fairy; 2 x Southern Right Whales
- 4 Aug - Cape Nelson; 1 x Southern Right Whales cow and calf pair plus 1-2 x Southern Right Whales adults
- 5 Aug - Bridgewater Bay; 1 x Southern Right Whale
- 5 Aug - Portland Bay; 2 x Southern Right Whales, adults (including 'White')
- 7 Aug - Portland harbour; 1 x adult Southern Right Whale
- 17 Aug - Cape Otway; unconfirmed reports of up to 5 Southern Right Whales off Light Station on 17 and 18 Aug and 3 in Portland harbour on 18 August.
On 4 August two Humpback Whales were sighted at Barwon Heads and another two at Port Phillip Heads. On 13 August 1 pod of Humpback Whales were seen in Port Phillip Bay. On 17 August 2-3 Humpback Whales were seen at Portland.
Last SRW Whale sighting at Logans Beach 28 August 2011.
Logans Beach conclusions
- Overall it was a quiet season with bad weather throughout June and July making observations difficult.
- Total number of individual whales = 16 minimum.
- At least 2 possibly 3 x cow calf pairs at Logans Beach during the season.
- Tripod present 10 May – 27 Aug (16 weeks = 109 days, calf = approx 12 weeks)
- Mating groups observed on 3 dates 1 Jul, 16 Jul, 20 Jul
- Maximum number of individual whales on a given day = 6 (including 1 x cc pair) at Logans Beach recorded on 1 July and 16 July.
- 2 flights between Port Campbell and Bridgewater 27 July and 24 August.
- 27 July; 9 whales photographed (4 Port Fairy – SAG including one light grey, 2 Codrington – including Big Lips Checkerboard, 1 Portland, 2 Logans Beach – Tripod and calf)
- 24 August; 4 whales photographed (2 Bridgewater Bay – including ‘Bumps’, 2 Discovery Bay – Tripod and calf).
- Matching against catalogue yet to be done.
The first sightings of Southern Right Whales occurred on 17 May 2012 at Barwon Heads. Since then there have been regular sightings along the south west Victorian coastline. Confirmed sightings of pairs of Southern Right Whales have occurred at Port Fairy, Logans Beach, south east of Portland, at Portland, Cape nelson. Four Southern Right Whales were recorded at Narrawong on 6 July. A confirmed Humpback Whale sighting was recorded at Cape Nelson on 4 July. There have been unconfirmed sightings of Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales reported off Bridgewater Bay, Cape Otway and Lorne during June-July.
The first confirmed sightings of Southern Right Whales in Victoria occurred on 28 May 2013 at Port Fairy and the first cow and calf pair was recorded at Logans Beach on 9 June 2013. The last sightings for the season were on 5 October with a cow and calf pair at Logans Beach.
This year Southern Right Whales were observed at numerous sites along the Victorian coastline with validated sightings at Port Fairy, Portland, Bridgewater, Cape Nelson, Logans Beach, Port Fairy, Narrawong, Killarney, Apollo Bay, Lorne, Anglesea, Bells Beach, Jan Juc, Ocean Grove, Phillip Island, Wilsons Promontory, Lake Tyres, Cape Conran, Tamboon Inlet and Wingan Inlet.
A survey conducted on 31 August counted a total of 28 southern right whales in Victoria. These were located at Bridgewater, Logans Beach and far East Gippsland
Cow and calf pair sightings were made at Logans Beach, Port Campbell, Anglesea, Wilsons Promontory and near Lorne but Logans Beach was clearly Victoria's most important location with regular cow and calf sighting from July through to early October. There were numerous days when three cow and calf pairs were observed. During August up to five cow and calf pairs were present with 16 whales counted at Logans Beach on 28 August.
By using photo-matching it has been found that two of the three mothers are regular Warrnambool females. One of the females called 'Big Lips' was recorded with a calf at Logans Beach in 1995, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2013. The other female named 'Long Coaming' has been recorded with a calf at Logans Beach in 2001, 2006, 2009 and 2013.
This summary was provided by Mandy Watson, Senior Natural Resource Management Officer - Biodiversity, Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries, Barwon South West Region, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria.
- 21 May first confirmed sighting - Cape Nelson.
- 28 May first Logan’s Beach sighting.
- 16 – 20 June first recorded calf - Portland.
- 3 July calf - Narrawong Beach (mother ID ‘Lotsadots’/SE0103) Pair resident at Logan’s Beach 11 Jul - 30 Jul. Also seen at Rutledge’s Cutting 4 & 5 Aug and Bridgewater 8 Aug, 25 Aug.
- 3 Aug calf - Portland (mother ID pending) - seen once.
- 15 Aug calf - Logan’s Beach (mother ID ‘Patch’s Mum’/SE0907). Mother seen without calf at Logan's Beach 22 Jul - 27 Jul and at Rutledge's Cutting 4 Aug. Pair resident at Logan's Beach 15 Aug - 26 Aug, last seen at Rutledge's Cutting 27 Aug.
- 22 Aug 3 x calves & 3 x single adults – Wilson’s Prom, 4 x single adults far East Gippsland (ID's pending).
- 30 Aug & 4 Sept calf - Anglesea/Barwon Heads (mother ID unknown).
- 7 Sept calf - Portland (mother ID pending).
- 12 Sept calf - Logan’s Beach (mother ID ‘Fang’/SE0402) Mother seen at Logan’s Beach without calf 25 Aug - 9 Sept. Pair resident at Logan's Beach 12 Sept - 12 Oct.
- 12 Oct last confirmed sighting - Logan’s Beach (‘Fang’ and calf).
A minimum total of 10 cow:calf pairs were confirmed during the 2014 season across the Victorian coast. 6 were recorded in the Warrnambool - Portland area, 1 in the Anglesea - Barwon Heads area and 3 at Wilson's Promontory. The last calf recorded at Logan's Beach this year was born between 9 - 12 Sept making it the latest calf on record.
Movements of individual whales have been documented courtesy of the DEPI photo-identification matching project (SEA SRW PIC) with ID contributions from a range of sources. The project acknowledges contributions of the Warrnambool Whale Watch volunteers and data contributors; P. Read, C. Farrell, Deakin University, B. McPherson, and M. Hartney.
This summary was provided by Many Watson (DELWP) 03 55 619961.
It's been a reasonably good season across the Victorian coast with plenty of opportunity to view southern right whales with from the Logans Beach viewing platform. Two Logans Beach regulars known as Big Coaming and Tripod were present with their calves throughout the months of July and August.
Big Coaming arrived on 18 June and was first spotted with her calf on 7 July. Tripod arrived on 7 July with her calf. It is estimated by their size that both calves were born around the beginning of July. Tripod and her calf left the area in late August followed by Big Coaming and her calf in early September. Both of these females have been identified (from the callosity pattern on the head) as having visited Logans Beach in at least 4 previous seasons. Tripod was first identified in 1995 and Big Coaming was first identified in 2001.
In addition to our resident females and calves a small number of single southern right whales made brief visits to Logans Beach. The maximum daily count at Logans Beach occurred on 16 August with 6 southern right whales (two cow:calf pairs plus 2 single adults) observed.
There were also numerous reports of travelling humpback whales and resting southern right whales in many of the usual bays along the coast throughout the season. Some unusual sightings this year include;
- A juvenile humpback whale in Corio Bay Geelong on 2 July
- A southern right whale in the bay at Port Campbell on 19 and 20 July
- A pod of killer whales spotted off Wilson's Prom on 1 July
- A sperm whale seen off Cape Otway on 26 Sept
- A humpback whale seen feeding off Portland in early during late Sept or early Oct (other details not available)
Below is a list of the confirmed reports from Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning (DEWLP), Mandy Watson, Senior Biodiversity Officer.
We have had a lot of reports so far and of particular interest is the return of two of our regular female Southern Right Whales to the Logan's Beach nursery, Warrnambool and the safe arrival of their calves last week. These females are known as 'Big Coaming' and 'Tripod' based on their callosity patterns (individually unique white features on their heads)
Whale sightings summary (update issued 17 July 2015):
- 27 May Portland 1 x Humpback Whale (HBW)
- 31 May Logans Beach 1 x Southern Right Whales (SRW)
- 7 June Port Fairy 2 x HBW
- 9 June Portland 2 x HBW
- 13 June Logans Beach 3 x HBW
- 15 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (sub-adult)
- 16 June Warrnambool 1 x SRW (sub-adult)
- 18 June Logans Beach 4 - 5 HBW
- 18 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW
- 19 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (identified as Big Coaming)
- 22 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 24 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 25 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 26 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 27 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 28 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 29 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 30 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW (Big Coaming)
- 1 Jul Wilson's Promontory light station 1 + Killer Whales
- 2 Jul Portland 1 x SRW
- 2 Jul Lake Gillear 1 x SRW
- 2 Jul Geelong 1 x HBW
- 3 Jul Portsea back beach 2 x HBW
- 6 Jul Bridgewater 2 x SRW
- 6 Jul Portsea back beach 1 + HBW
- 7 Jul Portland 4 x SRW
- 7 Jul Bridgewater 3 x SRW
- 7 Jul Peterborough 3 x HBW
- 8 Jul Princetown 6 + HBW
- 7 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming & min 2 others)
- 8 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming & unidentified)
- 9 Jul Port Fairy 3 x SRW
- 11 Jul Portland 2 x SRW
- 11 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming & Tripod)
- 13 Jul Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming & single adult)
- 14 Jul Portland 1 x SRW
- 14 Jul Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming & single adult)
- 16 Jul San Remo 1 x SRW
- 16 Jul Logans Beach 5 x SRW (2 x CC pairs & single adult)
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 24 July 2015 (update issued 27 July 2015)
- 19 Jul Logans Beach 5 x SRW (2 x CC pairs & single adult)
- 19 Jul Port Campbell 2 x SRW
- 20 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 20 Jul Port Campbell 1 x SRW
- 20 Jul Cape Nelson 3 x SRW
- 20 Jul Sorrento back beach 2 x HBW
- 21 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 21 Jul Sorrento back beach 1 x HBW
- 22 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 23 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 24 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 24 Jul Port Fairy 2 x HBW
There are unconfirmed reports of southern right whales at Apollo Bay and Aireys Inlet over the weekend and a pod of killer whales near Port Campbell last Tuesday. Further information is being obtained to confirm these reports. If anyone has photos of further information regarding these unconfirmed reports please contact Mandy Watson (DEWLP) 03 55 619961.
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 31 July 2015
- 25 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 26 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 27 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 27 Jul Wilson's Promontory 2 x SRW
- 28 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 28 Jul Apollo Bay 2 x SRW
- 29 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 29 Jul Cape Paterson 1 x SRW
- 30 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 31 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
Unconfirmed reports for week ending 31 July 2015
There are several unconfirmed reports of southern right whales in the Lorne/Stony Creek/Airey's Inlet area during the week. If anyone has information regarding these unconfirmed reports please contact Mandy Watson (DELWP) 03 55 619961.
Belated reports for week ending 24 Jul
- 22 Jul Wilson's Promontory 1 x SRW
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 7 August 2015
- 1 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 2 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 2 Aug 1 x SRW Port Fairy
- 2 Aug 1 x SRW Portland
- 3 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 4 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 5 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 6 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 7 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 14 August 2015
- 7 Aug Warrnambool 1 x HBW
- 8 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 9 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 10 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 10 Aug Pearl Point east Gippsland min 2 x SRW
- 11 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 12 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 13 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 14 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 21 August 2015
- 15 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 16 Aug Logans Beach 6 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod plus 2 adults)
- 16 Aug Seaspray 2 x SRW
- 17 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 17 Aug Port Fairy 1 x SRW
- 18 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 19 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 20 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 28 August 2015
- 21 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 22 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 22 Aug Ninety Mile Beach 2 x SRW
- 23 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 23 Aug Portland 1 x SRW
- 24 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 25 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 26 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 27 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 4 September 2015
- 29 Aug Logans Beach 4 x SRW (2 x CC pairs Big Coaming and Tripod)
- 30 Aug Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming plus single adult)
- 31 Aug Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 1 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 2 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 3 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 4 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 11 September 2015
- 5 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 6 Sept Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming plus single adult)
- 7 Sept Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming plus single adult)
- 8 Sept Logans Beach 3 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming plus single adult)
- 9 Sept Logans Beach 2 x SRW (1 x CC pair Big Coaming)
- 10 Sept no sightings
- 11 Sept no sightings
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 18 September 2015
- No confirmed sightings reported to DELWP over the last week.
See above for 2015 summary
This summary of sightings between 16 May to 29 August 2016 was compiled from information provided by Mandy Watson, Senior Project Officer Wildlife Emergencies|Biodiversity Division Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 703 - 709 Raglan Parade, Warrnambool 3280, Phone: (03) 55619961.
Official volunteer whale watching commenced in April 2016 with a slow start to the season. The first unconfirmed whale sighting was on 7 April at Port Fairy and the first confirmed Southern Right Whale sighting for the season being on 21 May at Apollo Bay.
Only two Southern Right Whale females with calves were recorded in Victorian waters this season. Both of these were matched with previously identified females in the SE Australian photo-ID catalogue (SEA SRW PIC).
One of these females, known as 'Bonnet' is a regular from Logans Beach, having been recorded there with calves in 2002 and 2009. 'Bonnet' arrived at Logans Beach amongst a group of other adults on 10 July and disappeared the following day. She re-appeared at Logan's Beach on 18 July with a calf, but again stayed for only one day. She was not identified again until 7 August where she was photographed at Skene's Creek, although a female with calf had been reported in the Lorne area on 5 August. 'Bonnet' and her calf re-appeared at Logans Beach on 20 August and were last seen there on 22 August.
The other female with calf was recorded at Portland and is relatively new to the catalogue. She has only been recorded once before - in Tasmania - also with a calf. This female was first reported to DELWP with a calf on 19 July at Portland and the pair was regularly observed there (mostly off Dutton Way), until 29 August, a total minimum of 42 days.
In addition to the two nursing females a large mating group of up to 7 adult southern right whales appears to have moved up and down the coast through the season. These whales were first reported at Logans Beach on 10 July, then at Port Fairy on 16 and 18 July. It appears they may have moved east from there, as mating groups were seen at Wye River on 24 July and Point Addis on 27 July. Up to 7 were seen at Port Fairy on 16 and 17 August, and 5 were seen at Portland on 22 August. Photo-ID matching has not yet been completed to confirm if these were all part of the same group, but the behaviours, locations and sequence of sightings would suggest they were. Interestingly a large mating group showed up in the Encounter Bay area in South Australia at the end of August.
Other interesting sightings include;
- a large pod of Killer Whales at Flinders on 4 July.
- a young Southern Right Whale approaching a whale watching vessel at Phillip Island on 9 July
- a pair of Southern Right whales near Mallacoota 6 - 7 August.
- 2016 photo ID results
Southern Right Whale (cow and calf pair) at Portland on 5 August 2016. Image: Bob McPherson
2016 Weekly summaries
These are confirmed reports from Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning (DEWLP), Mandy Watson, Senior Biodiversity Officer.
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 12 July 2016
- 16 May Mallacoota 1 x Killer Whale
- 21 May Apollo Bay 1 x SRW
- 5 Jun Portland 2 x SRW
- 13 Jun Phillip Island 1 x SRW
- 13 Jun Skenes Creek 1 x SRW
- 15 Jun Cape Patton 2 x HBW
- 19 Jun Port Phillip Bay 1 x SRW
- 4 Jul Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsular 15 x Killer Whales
- 9 Jul Phillip Island 1 x SRW
- 10 Jul Logans Beach 4 x SRW
- 11 Jul Logans Beach 1 x SRW
- 12 Jul Portland 3 x SRW
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 22 July 2016
- 16 Jul Port Fairy 4 x SRW
- 18 Jul Port Fairy 4 - 5 x SRW
- 18 Jul Logans Beach 1 x CC pair SRW
- 18 Jul Flinders 1 - 2 x SRW
- 19 Jul Portland 1 x CC pair SRW
- 20 Jul Portland 1 x CC pair SRW
- 21 Jul Portland 1 x CC pair SRW
- 22 Jul Portland 1 x CC pair SRW
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 29 July 2016
- 23 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
- 24 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
- 24 Jul 2 -3 x Adult SRW Wye River
- 25 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
- 27 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
- 27 Jul 4-5 x SRW Adults Point Addis
- 28 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
- 29 Jul 1 x CC pair SRW Portland
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 5 August 2016
- 30 Jul 1 x SRW Logans Beach
- 30 Jul 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 30 Jul 3 x SRW Lorne
- 31 Jul 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 3 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 4 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 4 Aug 2 x SRW Lorne
- 5 Aug 4 x SRW Lorne (2 adults & 1 x CC pair)
- 5 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 12 August 2016
- 5 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Big Tree Hill
- 5-8 Aug 2 x SRWs at Mallacoota
- 6 Aug 5 x SRW Apollo Bay (Adults in mating group)
- 7 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Skene's Creek
- 7 Aug 1 x SRW Logans Beach (sub-adult)
- 7 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 9 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 10 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 11 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 12 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
The whale identification catalogue and contributions from volunteer photographers has enabled Mandy to identify two cow:calf pairs that we currently have on our coast. Firstly the female with calf near Lorne has been identified as 'Bonnet', a whale who has been recorded at Logans Beach with calves in two previous years; 2002 and 2009. The female with a calf at Portland does not have a name but was identified in Tasmania 3 years ago where she was photographed with a calf at Southport on the far south east coast. This whale is new to the Victorian photo-identification catalogue.
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 19 August 2016
- 12 Aug 2 x HBW Logans Beach
- 12 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Separation Creek
- 13 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 14 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 15 Aug 2 x SRW Logan's Beach
- 15 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 16 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 16 Aug 5 x SRW Port Fairy
- 17 Aug 7 x SRW Port Fairy
- 18 Aug 7 x SRW Port Fairy
- 18 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 26 August 2016
- 20 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Logans Beach
- 20 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 21 Aug 3 x SRW Adults Yambuk
- 22 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Logans Beach
- 22 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair plus 3 x Adults SRW Portland
- 24 Aug 2 x SRW Portland
- 25 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
A two-metre long juvenile male Pygmy Right Whale (Caperea marginata) was found washed up dead at The Cutting near Killarney Beach west of Warrnambool on 26 August.
Confirmed whale sightings for the week ending 2 Septmber 2016 (final report for 2016)
- 27 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 28 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
- 29 Aug 1 x SRW CC pair Portland
SWIFFT wishes to thank Mandy and the volunteers for their sightings and confirmation of reports.
Results from the 2016 photo-ID matching for the South East Australian Photo Identification Catalogue (SEA SRW PIC) project.
Summary from Mandy Watson, Senior Biodiversity Officer, Barwon South West - Forest, Fire and Regions, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
A total of 23 photographed sightings 'events' were received from different 14 contributors from Victoria and NSW during the 2016 season. From these 23 events, 14 different whale IDs were obtained. Of the 14 IDs, twelve were whales which are new to the catalogue and two were whales from previous years. Both of these re-sights involved cow and calf pairs, one known as 'Bonnet' a regular from Logans Beach and one which spent this season at Portland was first identified in Tasmania in 2013. The remaining 12 whales were adults without calves.
19 of the 23 photographed sightings events involved the remaining 12 IDs, which means that some whales were photographed on more than one occasion at more than one location. One whale photographed near Gabo Island in far East Gippsland was photographed again off Kilcunda in South Gippsland 8 days later. 5 whales ID'd this year were part of a large mating group which moved west along the Victorian coast from Anglesea to Apollo Bay to Port Fairy then Yambuk over a 3 - 4 week period.
This photo-ID research provides valuable insights into habitat use and population trends within South East Australia.
Mandy acknowledges the valuable contributions received from observers which is fundamental to the project's success.
These are confirmed reports from Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning (DEWLP), Mandy Watson, Senior Biodiversity Officer, Warrnambool.
Confirmed whale sightings to 10 May 2017
- 4 May Cape Nelson 2 x Blue Whales
- 7 May Logans Beach 1 x SRW
- 7 May Bridgewater Bay 1 x SRW
- 7 May Bridgewater Bay 1 x Killer Whale
- 9 May Cape Nelson 1 x SRW
- 10 May Bridgewater Bay 1 x SRW
Confirmed whale sightings to 10 May 2017
- 16 May Tidal River Wilson's Promontory 1x Pygmy Sperm Whale mother and calf pair, stranded alive but both died despite rescue efforts.
Confirmed whale sightings to 26 May 2017
- 22 May *Logan's Beach 1 x SRW - tracked east to Thunder Pont then to Rutledge's Cutting then back to Warrnambool same day
- 23 May *Logan's Beach 2 x SRW (1 x adult and 1 x sub-adult interacting)
- 24 May *Logan's Beach 1 x SRW
- 24 May Port Campbell 1 x SRW
- 25 May *Logan's Beach 1 x SRW
- 26 May Jan Juc 1 x SRW
- 26 May *Logan's Beach 1 x SRW
* All Logan's Beach sightings have involved the same adult whale.
Confirmed whale sightings to 2 June 2017
- 28 May Rye back beach 1 x HBW
Confirmed whale sightings to 9 June 2017
The 2017 breeding season in SW Victoria has officially started with the arrival of two calves at Logans Beach last weekend (3 & 4 June). Both mother:calf pairs seem to have settled into the nursery where it is hoped they remain for the season.
Mandy Watson (DELWP) has confirmed that one of these pairs is a Logans Beach regular female known as 'Big Lips' and her newborn calf. Big Lips has been previously recorded 7 times at Logans beach and is known to have produced at least 6 calves here. Work on identifying the other female is underway to see if she is known to the photo-ID catalogue or is a new whale.
- 3 June Logans Beach 1 x SRW CC pair
- 3 June Logans Beach 2 x HBW heading east
- 4 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 4 June Portland 1 x SRW
- 5 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 6 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 7 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 8 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 9 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
Confirmed whale sightings to 16 June 2017
It's been another big week for whales in Victoria with daily sightings of the 2 Southern Right Whale cow calf pairs at Logans Beach plus sightings of other Southern Right whales at Lorne and Portland.
With the help of local photographers, Mandy has been able to identify two individual whales at Logans Beach. One female being ‘Big Lips’ and the second female identified as 'Thin Lips'. Both 'Big Lips' and 'Thin Lips' were at Logans Beach with calves in 2013. This is interesting because the normal calving interval is 3 years not 4. 2013 was a big year for calves at Logans Beach; 5 were recorded that year. It is possible that more females and calves could arrive at Logans Beach this season.
There has also been a big spike in the number of Humpback Whales seen along the coast this past week. These whales are all headed up the east coast as part of the annual Humpback Whale migration from Antarctic waters to the waters of northern Queensland.
- 9 June Portland 2 x SRW
- 9 June Lorne 1 x SRW
- 10 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 11 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 11 June Logans Beach 6 x HBW
- 11 June Portland 5 x HBW
- 11 June Lorne 2 x HBW
- 12 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 12 June Logans Beach 12 x HBW
- 13 June Logans Beach 2 x HBW
- 13 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 14 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 14 June Logans Beach 2 x HBW
- 15 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
Confirmed whale sightings to 22 June 2017
Mandy Watson has advised that she has received anecdotal reports of many more Humpback whales than what is reported below, as well as reports of unidentified species. Unfortunately these cannot be entered into the sightings database unless they are confirmed so please send images to Mandy where possible.
Below is a list of confirmed sightings reports over the past week:
- 15 June Point Hicks, East Gippsland 13 x HBW
- 16 June Port Phillip Bay 2 x HBW
- 16 June Bridgewater, The Blowholes 6 x HBW
- 16 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 17 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 17 June Pyramid Rock, Phillip Island 1 x SRW
- 17 June London Bridge, Portsea 1 x HBW
- 18 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 19 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 20 June Logans Beach 2 x SRW CC pairs
- 20 June Logans Beach 2 x HBW
- 21 June Logans Beach 5 x SRW (2 x CC pairs, 1 adult)
- 22 June Logans Beach 5 x SRW (2 x CC pairs, 1 adult)
SRW = Southern Right Whale
HBW = Humpback Whale
CC = Cow:Calf pair
If you wish to contribute sightings reports please contact Mandy Watson. This data once validated will be added to the department's official fauna and flora database. If you would like your sighting to be recorded in the database please ensure you provide the following information;
- Location (Preferably GPS coordinates)
- Description including, species (if known), number of whales, behaviour/direction of travel
- Preferred follow-up contact details (email or phone)