NEWS - Whale calf hit-and-run

NPWS says boat collision with southern right whale calf highlights need for care on the water

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)has asked all boat owners to take special care in the water during this whale season.

NPWS spokesman Geoff Ross said the advice follows the sad discovery of a southern right whale calf washed up on a remote South Coast beach last weekend.

"We suspect this is the calf that was hit in a recent collision with a boat in the Batemans Bay area in the Batemans Marine Park," Ross said.

"The 6½-metre long calf, estimated to be less than one year old, was severely injured in the accident. It was dead when it washed up and there are clear signs of propeller damage to the head of the mammal," he said.

Southern right whales are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in NSW and are rarely seen in NSW waters. The loss of any individual is a setback to the ongoing recovery of the population, the NPWS said.

"Unlike humpbacks which are mainly passing through our waters, southern right whales are returning to NSW waters to give birth. The pregnant whales seek out the sheltered and calmer waters of our inlets as potentially safe places to have their calves — unfortunately for the whales, these areas are often places of human activity," said Ross.

"After giving birth, the mothers then need to spend some time suckling the young calves while they grow and learn the skills they need to survive the journey south to Antarctic waters again. These first few weeks are a critical time for the calves," he said.

The NPWS reminds all boaters to post lookouts, be vigilant and navigate with care when operating at times when whales may be present.

"Not only could a collision severely injure or kill a whale, but it could also cause extensive damage to boats and put people at risk," said Ross.

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