Copyright © 2005-2017 Ray Plowman All Rights Reserved
Features images of mammals photographed in sea and coastal habitat and include sperm whales which are part of the Physeteridae family, southern right whales the Balaenidae family and dolphins the Delphinidae family; they all belong to the order Cetacea.
Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are a vulnerable species that inhabit all the oceans and non-landlocked seas. I photographed these splendid animals on a boat trip off the coast of Kaikoura in New Zealand’s South Island.
Images of the sperm whale depict different behaviours: logging, which is lying still at the surface, spouting which is breathing through the blowhole and diving with arched back and with flukes in the air. There are more images of sperm whales on my Kaikoura Travel page.
These toothed whales stay at Kaikoura year round feeding on giant squid, which they hunt in the 3 Km deep Kaikoura Canyon that runs close to the coastline. They are amongst the largest whales being around 16 to 18 metres long, weighing around 57 tonnes and can live for over 60 years. At Kaikoura, they can dive to over 1000 metres and stay submerged for up to two hours and are recognisable by their massive heads.
Southern right whales (Eubalaena Australis) inhabit the southern hemisphere with breeding population concentrated near coastlines in the winter and in the deep oceans in summer months as far down as Antarctica. The main Australian calving grounds are Warrnambool (Victoria), Victor Harbour (South Australia) and Bunda Cliffs at the Head of the Bight, near Ceduna. They probably chose these three places to calve because the beaches have high-energy breaking waves creating a high ambient noise environment; probably used as a countermeasure against acoustically sensitive predators, such as the killer whale; they also have access to nearby deep water.
I captured images of these amazing mammals at the end of their breeding season, at Logans Beach in Warrnambool, on the South West coast Victoria in Australia. The first image shows rough sea with breaking waves on the beach, the second shows a whale just beyond the breakers. Other images of the southern right show a cow swimming parallel to the beach, a cow with her calf also swimming parallel to the beach, a cow spy hopping and body roll behaviour. There are more southern right whale images on my Warrnambool travel page.
Males have an average length of 15 metres, weigh 50 to 60 tonnes while the females are around 18 metres and weigh around 80 tonnes, a similar size to sperm whales.
Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) are small dolphins being about 2 metres in length. They inhabit and are resident in the cold coastal waters of the southern hemisphere: South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand and some smaller islands. There are several subspecies including the New Zealand, which is unnamed.
I photographed these agile and acrobatic dolphins on the same boat trip as the sperm whales off the coast of Kaikoura in New Zealand’s South Island. They leap out of the water, jump over one and other and tumbling in the air – great photographic subjects.
The conservation status is unknown but not thought to be in danger.
Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis), an aboriginal name, is a relatively new but controversial species of bottlenose dolphin found in 2011. There may be about 100 in Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne and another 50 in the coastal lakes of Gippsland where I captured photos of them. It’s a small dolphin not assessed for the IUCN Red List but with a small population is probably threatened.
One individual washed up dead on the shore within the Gippsland lake system and a pod swimming along with fur seals in the surf at Lakes Entrance.
Whales and Dolphins – Cetacea:
The resources used for identification of the taxonomic rank, scientific name, common name and expert knowledge are in the taxonomic classification section on my wildlife web page.