Orcas and southern right whales spotted near Sydney
Eagle-eyed whale watchers in Sydney have been treated to some rare sightings this week. Not only were a mother southern right whale and her calf spotted swimming together, but also a pod of 50 orcas has been sighted off Maroubra and Cape Solander in Kamay Botany Bay National Park.
While the humpback is king of whale watching season, there are a number of species lucky observers can see off the NSW coast.
Image credit: Go Whale Watching.
"This whale watching season has been full of excitement and the sighting of a large pod of killer whales off Sydney will make the 2018 season a memorable one," said marine biologist and whale expert Vanessa Pirotta.
"Killer whales are known for their cosmopolitan distribution however, it has been a few years since killer whales were last seen off Sydney."
Orcas can be found in all Australian waters, though it is rare to spot them near Sydney. The most famous orcas in NSW were Old Tom and his pod, which helped fishermen in Eden hunt humpback whales in the early 1900s. It is thought that diminishing food sources caused this pod to eventually leave NSW waters.
Image credit: Whale Watching Sydney.
"In addition to the killer whales, southern right whales have also made an appearance, which is not uncommon for this time of the season off Sydney. While southern right whales do migrate north however they don't travel along the east coast in large numbers like the humpback whales do," said Vanessa.
While the two most commonly sighted whales are humpback whales and southern right whales, there are some easy tricks to tell these species apart.
Southern right whales are known to come quite close to shore as they seek safer waters for calving. These gentle giants can be identified by their distinctive v-shaped blow, caused by their double blow hole and lack of dorsal fin. They also sport callosities on their head, called a ‘bonnet’.
Header image credit: Whale Watching Sydney