Whale mum and calf pay a visit
A RARE sighting of a southern right whale and her calf had beach-goers spellbound for more than an hour at Brooms Head on Sunday.
The whales, said Brooms Head resident and photographer Steve Otton, came as close as 10m from the shore and travelled about 1.5km in the hour.
"It was amazing, people were just entranced," he said.
Mr Otton said he spotted the pair from inside his home and raced down with the camera hoping for a spectacular breach, but it wasn't to be.
The mother and calf were spotted at Corindi on Monday and Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.
Southern right whales, so named because they were once known as the right whale to hunt because of the high level of body fat and shore-hugging habits, once numbered in the hund- reds of thousands in the world's oceans, said National Parks and Wildlife Service media officer Lawrence Orel.
The whaling industry in NSW and elsewhere virtually wiped out the species and their recovery thus far has been slow - the total number in the world estimated at 5000.
"It's great to see southern right whales returning to their former breeding grounds," Mr Orel said.
Southern Right Whales
Known to hug the shoreline, especially when training calves;
This made them easy to hunt in oared boats;
Grow to about the same length as humpback whales (12-15m) but weigh twice as much (up to 80 tonnes):
Twice the fat/oil level of humpbacks, making them float after death - both facts made them more attractive to hunt;
Once estimated to be hundreds of thousands in southern waters, they were all but wiped out in the 1840s, causing the collapse of the NSW colony's first industry.