Humpback Whale calf spotted in King George Sound just hours after its birth

Campbell WilliamsonAlbany Advertiser
A tiny humpback whale with its mother.
Camera IconA tiny humpback whale with its mother. Credit: South Coast Cetaceans

A baby humpback whale has been spotted off King George Sound just hours after it was born.

The calf was seen on Tuesday resting with its mother between Goode Beach and the old Albany whaling station.

South Coast Cetaceans marine biologist Kirsty Alexander said when it was spotted, the calf was still covered in a residue, indicating it had likely been born just hours earlier.

“This one is the smallest one that I’ve seen,” Ms Alexander said. “A humpback calf at birth is around the 3-31/2m mark and this one was definitely on the small side ... just a little under three metres, I think. There was still a coating on the skin, so I think we’ve missed seeing that birth by hours rather than days.”

Humpback calves are rarely spotted near Albany, as the whales typically give birth in the warmer tropical waters closer to the Kimberley, after migrating from Antarctica.

Only a handful of humpback whales are born near Albany each year, with Ms Alexander putting the number of births at five or under. She said that aside from its size and youth, the baby humpback whale’s foetal folds were also significant.

A closeup of the baby whale.
Camera IconA closeup of the baby whale. Credit: Supplied/ South Coast Cetaceans Facebook Page/Supplied/ South Coast Cetaceans Facebook Page

“What was quite significant was the foetal folds,” she said.

“They’re basically just creases in the newborn’s skin that result from being curled up inside the mother’s uterus.

“They were so significant that they almost looked like scratches.

“Generally, the animal just looks a bit wrinkly. They don’t look as stark as those ones did.”

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