Humpback Whale Calf Feeding off the Gold Coast.
Last Sunday we were treated to an amazing event! Whilst sailing home from a whale watching tour we came across a humpback whale calf feeding on Coral spawn. The coral spawn trail was about 7 NM east of the Gold Coast Seaway, around 300 meters across and at least 1NM long.
Coral Spawn Drifting with the wind 7 NM ENE of the Gold Coast Seaway
The humpback whale calf was born this season along the Queensland coast line and was traveling with it's mother (known as the cow) on their southern migration. The whales are 3/4 of the way though their migration with a large number of these massive mammals passing the Gold Coast at present (Oct 2013) .The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. They are the edentulous whales, characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than teeth like in the toothed whales or Odontoceti.
The Baleen Plate of a Humpback Whale
This humpback whale calf was feeding on the surface filling it's relatively large mouth with sea water which was rich in coral spawn and filtering the water from the coral spawn with it's baleen plates. We sailed past the calf and noticed the cow several times staying outside of the coral spawn in clear water, the calf happily feed for the time we were in view of it (20min). This encounter is a rare event, with coral spawning only once a year and then the chances of sailing past a humpback calf feeding on the spawning is amazing. This is a day that will be remembered.
Humpback Whale Calf Feeding
Baleen whales have two blowholes, causing a V-shaped blow.