Ros Butt’s high call rolls out over the water from the Cat Balou as she tries to see if there is a calf present with two huge meandering, and threatened, southern right wales on Monday.
One whale obliges, turning to pass under the rear corner of the boat and prompting a rousing cheer from the crowd on board, but there is no calf.
Ros and her husband Gordon, veteran whale watchers, were hoping for a second look at the rare calf spotted by Albert Terrace resident Jan Pyke on Sunday.
Jan was alerted to their presence by a rhythmic tail slap which is unusual in the normally quiet southern rights.
“I’ve seen a few in eight years but I’ve never seen them do anything like that before,” she said.
“And the baby kept popping its head up too.”
It was the first calf from the threatened species the Butts have ever seen in Twofold Bay although Gordon recalls a birth at Bermagui many years ago.
The three-metre youngster and it’s mother seem to have continued south and if they visit Tasmanian waters their status will be upgraded to endangered.
With mothers expected to reach sexual maturity at 35, scientists are learning more about the age of the species through harpoons found in dead animals.
“They think they can live until they are about 200 or so,” Ros said, reaching for the microphone to alert passengers to an Australian Fur Seal, floating with a flipper in the air to cool off.
Gordon picks up the topic while steering the boat closer to the seal.
“They found a southern right washed up dead somewhere and found a harpoon inside it,” he said.
“The harpoon was dated to be 200 years old. It’s thrown our knowledge of the southern right completely out of whack.”
Humpback whales were a regular sight at Jervis Bay this week with numbers expected to rise in Eden in coming weeks.