Southern right with calf sighting verified by scientists


southern right whale and her calf (Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment)

Good news from Tasmania, as scientists believe the island's waters are once again a nursery for the endangered southern right whale.

The recent sightings of whales with their calves are the first for nearly 200 years off the coast of Tasmania.

The area was known as a breeding ground before the whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 19th century. It's estimated that around 26,000 southern right whales were killed in Australia and New Zealand before they were protected in 1935.

Photographs of a whale and a calf were taken in Great Oyster Bay on the island's east coast. Scientists identified the calf as only two days old, confirming the theory that it had been born in Tasmanian waters.

Marine biologist David Pemberton said: There have been mother-calf pairs reported for quite a few years, but we needed scientific proof they were breeding in this area. We finally got that today, so it is very exciting.

The whales migrate north from Antarctica to Australian waters to mate, breed and nurse their young during the southern hemisphere winter.