Rare whales frolic at Yamba
By ADRIAN MILLER
A NEWBORN whale and its mother frolicked with a pod of dolphins and swam within metres of surfers off Turners Beach at Yamba yesterday.
Surfers and morning walkers spotted the pair of rare southern right whales at daybreak.
They were first seen swimming close to the rocks at the southern end of the beach, almost coming into contact with surfers.
They spent the morning swimming between the break wall and the rocks, with the calf continually breaching the water.
Some whale watchers said they believed the calf had been born early yesterday morning.
They were easy to spot, as a fin or tail would majestically rise out of the sea and slap back down, much to the delight of the crowd.
The mother kept a watchful eye on her offspring and throughout the morning she continued to shield the calf as it swum to ensure it was never far away.
In the early afternoon they drifted to within 50 metres of the rocks at Turners Beach and were joined by the pod of up to 20 dolphins.
From there the whales ventured south, passing Main and Convent beaches before heading out to sea in the middle of the afternoon.
People lined up along the break wall and rocks at Turners Beach, with surfers and swimmers watching from the shore.
One lucky surfer had a bird's-eye view after he paddled to within 50 metres of the whales.
One whale watcher said his son also had a close encounter with the calf. "He was surfing this morning and saw the whales swimming around and saw the calf swim right underneath his board," he said.
Another observer said it had been a magnificent thing to see.
"It's just awesome, they are beautiful creatures," she said.
"This is the closest I've ever seen whales before and it's just a beautiful sight. I think it's just incredible."
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) spokesman Lawrence Orel said southern right whales were rare for northern NSW.
"It's only been in very recent times that southern right whales have been returning to parts of their former northerly range," he said.