Whale Song Feature Article
BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Off the Western most coast of Australia is a secret location known to only a very few people …….and around 5000 humpback whales.
It’s a special place.
It’s a magic place.
It’s a place where humpbacks come to mate, to give birth and to teach their young, how to survive.
This nursery has only recently been discovered by humanity, though the whales have known about it for millennium.
The people who discovered this place are Curt and Mich Jenner a husband a wife scientific team who run the Australian Centre for Whale Research. They live on the research vessel WhaleSong with their daughter Micah.
In WhaleSong the Jenners take us to this, the humpback bedroom, as they and Earthwatch volunteers study pregnant and nursing humpbacks, with the hope of seeing something which has never been seen before, the birth of a humpback whale.
WhaleSong is a celebration of the humpback whale. In this programme we see unique behavioural footage never before filmed.
We see two huge 50 feet humpbacks gently playing in seaweed, or rather making love in the seaweed. Finding the weed somewhat sensual the pair roll around in it for hours.
The Jenners have been studying humpbacks for 20 years and say they have never seen anything like this before.
We also followed a mother and two-week-old calf. Amazing scenes as we witness her teaching her calf how to fluke slap, how to slap its pectoral fin and the most breathtaking of all, how to breach (to jump out of the water).
Other unique footage includes a pregnant cow in labour. The incredible thing about this is she was hanging upside down, almost as if she was hanging by her tail; she was with an escort. At first it was thought this escort was a midwife, but then the boat started to vibrate as the huge whale below began to sing. Accepted wisdom has it that only males sing. Accepted wisdom has it that only females act as midwives. So was this escort a singing female or a male helping out? This potentially will re-write the textbooks.
Another amazing and very rare sight – a mega-pod of eight whales, seven of whom were males. Humpbacks are solitary animals and are rarely seen in-groups larger than two or three. As already stated this area is a nursery. These seven males however cared not for the pregnant females or the newborn learning how to survive. Like a gang of bikies they tore through the area churning up the sea and “singing up a storm” with their competing whale songs trying to attract a mate.
Rambunctious males aren’t the main threat to baby humpbacks, we see a 5.5 metre white pointer shark attacking and eating a one tonne sea lion. But the main threat to these whales is humanity and in WhaleSong the scientists call for this pristine area to be declared a sanctuary for future generations of humpbacks.
You can watch this documentary for free, it’s supported, like the Before It’s Too Late Conservation Community, by advertising.