With deep 20 to 30 centimetre gouges along her left flank and right tail fluke (see photos) it isn't surprising that the humpback whale who suffered and survived gut-clenching propeller strike injuries was named Bladerunner.
When she was first sighted by Eden-based whale watching professionals Ros and Gordon Butt of Cat Balou cruises back in 2008, even they were stunned by the extent of her injuries.
“We have seen them over the years with smaller marks but nothing like Bladerunner,” Ros Butt told the Magnet this afternoon.
Second time around, Rod and Gordon didn't mistake the tell-tale prop-strike marks on the whale’s fluke.
“We were a mile outside Twofold Bay (Eden) on our second whale watching cruise on Saturday when Gordon spotted this one. He realised who it was,” she said.
“This time the whale had a calf with it and another adult escort – we presume it’s a male. It was such a substantial hit and we’ve provided that photo to the Pacific Whale Foundation (based in Hawaii) who use it to demonstrate how devastating propeller strike can be for marine mammals,” Ros said.
“They think the calf is about 14 to 18 weeks old.”
The sighting of Bladerunner is just one of the highlights for local whale watchers who are excited by this year’s bumper whale migration season.
“Amazing!” is how Ros Butt describes it.
“There’s been just so many mothers and calves – we haven’t seen this number ever before.
“I guess as the whale population has increased by around 12 per cent, there will be more and more every year, hopefully,” Ros said.
That’s good news for Eden people who are gearing up for the Eden Whale Festival over two weekends from October 26 to November 3.
See this week’s Magnet for more on the Eden Whale Festival