Endangered Southern Right whales have returned to give birth in waters in southern Australia for the first time in 200 years.
Australian scientists confirmed yesterday what they have suspected for years — that the waters around the southern island of Tasmania have once again been turned into a nursery for Southern Right whales, which became scarce after excessive whaling in the early 1800s.
Two weeks ago a mother and newborn calf were spotted in Great Oyster Bay near Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast. Scientists examined the photographs and confirmed yesterday that the calf was no more than two days old, which meant that it had been born in local waters.
Earlier yesterday there was another report of a Southern Right whale giving birth at Cape Barren Island in the Bass Strait to the north of Tasmania; however this is yet to be confirmed by scientists.
Marine biologist David Pemberton said the confirmation that the recently sighted calf was born in Tasmanian waters was critical to the ongoing recovery of the species, of which there are approximately 1,500 that migrate to Australia each year out of the estimated 60,000 in the world.
“After the thylacine (the extinct Tasmanian tiger), they are the second rarest mammal in Tasmania,” Mr Pemberton told The Times.