These are some of the endangered whale species living in South Australia. However, the number of these whales increases every year by about 7-8%. Of the estimated 12, 000 Southern Right Whales around the world, about 1, 500 live in Australia. Before whaling, the population was about 60, 000 – 100, 000.

Southern Right Whales are also mostly found in South Africa and Argentina (in the Valdes Peninsula). However, a small number also lives in New Zealand and Brazil. Others are found in Mozambique and Chile. A large number Southern Right Whales was killed through haunting in the early 1930’s and they almost went to extinction. South Australia began protecting these animals from haunters in 1931. The name of these types of whales is derived from the fact that they were “the right whales” to haunt because they are slow in speed and very large. They also contain much blubber and oil. They float on the water surface when dead.

How to distinguish South Right Whales

Southern Right Whales are dark grey or black in color. Some white patches are visible on their bellies. It is easy to distinguish the Southern Right Whales from other whales because of the whitish callosities present on their heads. This is because of large cyamids (whale lice) colonies around their heads. The northern species, however, might have lesser colonies on their lower lips and more on the head compared to the Southern Right Whales. They do not have a dorsal fin on their broad back, unlike other types of whales. Their mouth begins above the eyes and is long and arching.

Southern Right Whales are about 15 m long each. Each weighs about 47 tonnes and has testicles of about 500 kg each. They cannot move to live or breed in warm tropical waters because it is hard to dissipate internal body heat in these climates. This is because of the thick layers of blubber that act as body heat insulators.

Best Places to Watch Southern Right Whales in South Australia

Most of the Southern Right Whales in South Australia live in the Head of Bight, located 330 kilometers away at the South of Ceduna. In fact, this area harbors about 10% of the total Southern Right Whales around the world. This region receives between 25 and 55 calves of Southern Right Whales every year. One of the three regions where people can see Southern Right Whales is at the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. South Australian Whale Watch Center is one of the cliff tops that are famous for watching of the Southern Right Whales. It harbors about 70 whales (calves included) and they can be seen crowding in the sea near Bunda cliffs.

Best time to watch the Southern Right Whales

Every year, Southern Right Whales can be seen at the Head of Bright during May to October. This is the period they come to this place to socialize, mate and give birth. After October to prior to around May the next year, they can be seen traveling and feeding around the Southern Ocean off Antarctica. Most of the whales seen in the Head of Bright in June and July are adults. They can be seen mating. It is usual to see mothers and calves along the cliffs by the end of August, as they move together. The calves have become big enough by October and they can migrate to the South together with their mothers.