Stephen Otton

Whales put on a right royal show

BROOMS Head photographer Stephen Otton's heart was pumping as he waited to get the perfect shot.

He was perched at the end of Plover Island at the mouth of the Sandon River, the tide rising, but he wasn't going anywhere.

A southern right whale, one of the rarer species to be seen along the Clarence Coast, and her newborn calf were putting on a special show for locals and visitors alike.

Their appearance on Sunday was welcomed by groups of onlookers and Mr Otton, who spent the whole day tracking them with his camera after hearing from his neighbour that the playful pair was sitting just off the coast.

He said the whales seemed happy to stay in the Sandon bay as a small group watched on from the beach.

"At one point at middle Sandon, a pod of dolphins headed toward them to greet them and sailed along with them, playing and swimming in front as if to be escorting them," he said.

"The mother rolled here and there and (she was) simply cruising with the top part of her body breathing away like a steam ship, as the little calf played and performed tail flips and several breaches."

Wooli Dive operator Stan Young, who runs whale watching tours from his boat, said he thought September was the best time to go searching for gentle giants off the Clarence coast, as most of the migrating mothers were now making the journey south with their newborn calves.

"The calves have just been born and they're jumping about the place all excited," he said.

"Especially this year, there are a lot more than last year by far.

"We were out there the other day and probably saw 30 whales. Every day is the same if you can see them really clearly."

On the east coast, southern right whales usually migrate between Cape Byron and Antarctica, but have been seen as far north as Hervey Bay.

The whale migration season will continue until November.

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