Drones show rare white whale calf

2016-09-06 16:50
A rare image of a white calf swimming with its mother off the coast of Western Australia as part of a project they hope will help conservation efforts. (Christiansen/Murdoch/AFP)

A rare image of a white calf swimming with its mother off the coast of Western Australia as part of a project they hope will help conservation efforts. (Christiansen/Murdoch/AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Scientists studying whales in Australia have gained rare images of a white calf swimming with its mother as part of a project they hope will help conservation efforts.

Researchers spotted the baby white whale while using a drone to conduct aerial surveys of southern right whale populations off the coast of Western Australia.

"Drones are allowing us to non-invasively measure the size and body condition of free-living southern right whales," said Fredrik Christiansen, a researcher at Murdoch University's Cetacean Research Unit.

Lars Bejder, who took the drone footage with Christiansen off Augusta in the state's south-west in July and August, said the drones provided a new perspective on the animals.

Southern right whale populations are showing signs of recovery from the impact of whaling last century, but the population is still estimated to be relatively small at about 3 000 animals in Australian waters.

The white calf is rare as only about 5% of the species are born this colour. They darken to grey in their first year.

The drones are part of an innovative programme which also uses suction cups applied to the whales to measure their dives and sounds to learn more about the animals.

"Little is known about the three-dimensional movements and habitat use of southern right whales in their breeding and calving grounds in Australia," Bejder said in a statement.

Data vital for conservation

He added that such data was vital for the animal's conservation given many areas in the region were slated for developments which would see an increase in shipping and tourism.

"Our aim is not only to study the behavioural ecology of these amazing animals but also to provide information to industry and management towards conservation," he said.

The suction cup tags, carefully affixed to the animals via hand-held poles, stay attached for up to 24 hours and measure and record the depth, pitch and roll of swimming behaviour.

"The tag also records sound, which is sufficient for measuring sounds made by boats and those heard by the whales," said Bejder. 

Read more on:    australia  |  marine life  |  conservation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.