Archive for category Whales & Dolphin
A few months after we photographed a Southern Right whale and her calf underwater off Sydney Heads, this young sperm whale became stranded on a northern Sydney beach. We raced up the coast in my small boat to get some pictures, and as it turned out, to try and get the whale back in deeper water.
Nothing worked. This was the early days of whales being seen near the east coast again, (after almost a century of hunting) and before \\Greenpeace, Save the Whale\\ and \\Project Jonah\\ $$ foundations.
Why do whales come ashore? A good question.
Many friends make a guess and turn the answer into a fact.
I’ve often considered that floating oil would not be much good for any cetaceans lungs.
There’s also various acoustic disturbances (natural and man-made) which might cause **vertigo** to a sensitive brain, as it may also do to us humans.
Or it may be bacterial?
Try this. In a grassy park, close your eyes and standing upright, turn or twist 20 times as fast as possible. Make yourself super giddy. Imagine a whale with this problem 24/7.
It would not know where it was.
“The first dolphin oceanarium began as a accident at Snapper Rocks ocean baths. The story was some joking friends of Jack Evans (pictured with broom) dropped a dolphin (called porpoise in error) into his swimming baths at Snapper Rocks on the Queensland – New South Wales border.
The resulting publicity and income was such, that Jack Evans went into business and constructed an oceanarium on the bank of the Tweed River, at the border holiday towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta at the southern end of the Gold Coast strip which includes Surfers Paradise”.
Like a military exercise. Tents, wet suits, vehicles, hot food and drink, volunteers galore. A pod of false killer whales (pilot whales) decided to commit suicide by swimming ashore. They were persuaded by \\marine councilors\\ to do otherwise.
Locals said it was the most people ever seen at any one time on Boat Beach.
We were aboard \\Careelah\\ at Yonge Reef when Valerie spotted a school of ‘dolphin’ approaching. As they got closer she exclaimed **Pilot whales**. We jumped in a work boat and followed them. Underwater I clicked a couple of frames with a Nikonos.
It was the only time I’ve swum with this species. A very rare event in 1967.
National Geographic purchased the pictures.
**Christine Danaher** of Yeppoon, Queensland shown underwater with a cooperative dolphin (in captivity), and (with canoe and coconut trees) during a safari to The Solomon Islands.
Christine voted Eupi Island Resort (below) \\”fantastic for diving and good food”\\ – she had a different opinion of another resort near Honiara where sand-flies were so thick the beach had to be sprayed with poison. To compound matters the accommodation windows were not screened for protection against those famous nocturnal blood suckers.
The mother and calf, Southern Right whale had swum into the Sydney Harbour during the night. My friends and I had coaxed and followed in a small speedboat away from busy ferry and boat traffic to the quieter open ocean where a series of underwater pictures were made.
Southern right whales still return to Sydney Harbour about this time of the year, but not every year.
Newspaper journalist Mike Perry had spotted the mother whale and her calf during his early morning swim at Balmoral Beach and phoned with an excited voice ‘bring boat and underwater camera ASAP’.
The pictures made a front page story on the Fairfax newspaper, THE SUN the following day. The next day a follow-up Page One story (and repeat of the same picture) when it was discovered how rare the Southern Right species was. “On the brink of extinction” said the heading quoting a university lecturer.
Whales had been having a ‘rough trot’ and there were not many left, especially this species, named the ‘right’ whale because they floated when killed and were therefore easier to tow back to the factory.
Low visibility, a large subject, all a bit of a challenge at the time. The mother was huge and almost black so I focused on the lighter-coloured baby. This picture shows a section of the five meter-long calf riding on the mother’s back, as they do just under the surface.
We did not recognise the species until (the late) Dr William Dawbin saw the pictures at his Sydney University department and almost fell off the chair.
It took a ban of whaling and another decade before people began swimming with all the other species elsewhere. The Southern Right has remained a prize subject. They are still rare. Unusual with a reversed-looking jaw-line.
Nov4 Footnote: 35mm underwater movie footage was made by pioneer USFA member Bill Heffernan at Seal Rocks almost 50 years ago. This would be the very first underwater whale images in Australia to our knowledge. What has become of this material is unknown. Bill Heffernan was a resident of The Entrance NSW. Has anyone out there any info we can add here, please?
12/12/2012 Kerry Heffernan has updated our knowledge. His father’s humpback and calf whale film footage was incorporated into a feature movie “A Boy in the Sea” produced by his father at considerable expense. A copy or print is being restored at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.
Pictures and details of Bill Heffernan’s amazing and active diving career will be posted on one of the blogs, possibly http://wallygibbins.blogspot.com.au in the near future, which will be retitled SEA LEGENDS.
Kerry Heffernan is one of the founding members of the USFA, signed-in by his father when aged three – (to help boost necessary numbers needed to form an association)!
Australian Marine Picture Library ©
John Harding Marine Photography ©: 1960 – 2012
We reserve copyright for pictures, captions, text content of this web site.
We own all such copyright, (or use it with permission of the credited owner).