PARENTING YOUR TWO TON BUNDLE OF JOY

BLOG 5 – September 2013 – Research Station in Península Valdés

Cliff Observation Site - Photo by Vicki RowntreeWhenever the wind is not blowing too hard, I spend my time on the cliffs of Península Valdés watching mother/calf pairs as they pass beneath me on their way to and from camp bay. I choose a mother/calf pair that is swimming along the coast towards me and continuously record the behavior of each whale until they pass out of sight. “Focal animal follows” are a wonderful way to get to know individual whales and learn how they spend their day. Below is a photo of one of the whales I followed yesterday – a tiny newborn calf, you can see its characteristically high and rounded blowhole that looks like an upside down teacup behind the calf’s turned up snout-tip.

Right whale baby calf - Photo by Vicki RowntreeThe mother swam quietly by with her calf as it surfaced to breathe every 8-10 seconds. She successfully steered her calf by an older and very social calf who created great havoc with two other mother/calf pairs. The mother of the friendly youngster appeared unable to  control her little monster as it swam directly up to the other mother/calf pairs causing a swirl of circling whales and many loud blows as mothers tried to corral their calves and move them away from the energetic little imp.

By Vicky Rowntree, Right Whale Program Director

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