Whales stuck in reef seemed to have reached safety

By AG Staff 20 June 2017
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The mother and calf humpback whale were rumoured to have been spotted South of Rowley Shoals in January, hopefully making their way to Antarctica.

LAST DECEMBER A MOTHER and calf humpback whale reluctant to leave a north-west Australian coral reef left experts fearful that the pair would starve to death. Until recently when reports came in that the two whales have been sighted south of Rowley Shoals.

It was believed that the mother whale may have been scared to leave the coral reef because orcas had caused her trouble along her southern migration.

The two whales remained in the reef well after they were due to migrate south to feed.

Kylie Bartle, the Charter boat director at Great Escape Charter Company, told the ABC that she was increasingly worried about the state of the two whales.

“We noticed that she’d started losing weight, her tail looked quite thin, and we could sort of start to see the vertebrae through her skin.”

At one point, the two whales followed Kylie’s charter boat out of the reef but then returned soon after.

“We were devastated, oh my god there were people crying, we were like, ‘No!’” Kylie told the ABC.

“It was terrible, and it was at that stage that we were like, ‘Oh no, what’s going on, and what are the chances of her surviving?”

Recently, Australian Customs were observing the reef, unable to find any sign of the mother and calf humpback whale.

Given the extensive amount of time it takes for a whale carcass to break down, Kylie is optimistic that the pair managed to finally migrate south.

“Some people in Coral Bay or Exmouth were swimming with a humpback and her calf and that was probably middle to late January,” Kylie explained to the ABC, adding that this was a rare occurrence.

“She had to have gotten out, and that had to be her in Coral Bay or Exmouth, and fingers crossed she made it to Antarctica.”