September 28th, 2016 (Stan Gorton). A severely injured humpback with a huge chunk out its back was spotted by Narooma Charters swimming past Montague Island on Monday afternoon.
Skipper Nick Ingersole said the whale looked like it had been attacked previously. “Seems to be healed alright but it’s left side was almost down to the bone,” he said.
Mr Ingersole was later informed that possibly the same whale was seen off Blackfellows Point near Potato Point on Saturday in distress splashing around with several large creatures, possibly great whites, lunging into its side.
“There were no spouts so it was probably sharks,” he said.
Marine researcher David Donnelly, specialises in cetaceans, and is manager at Killer Whales Australia, formerly Australian Orca Database.
He checked out the photos and said it was near impossible to say what caused the massive injury, but that it might have been made worse by scavengers, such as sharks.
“This is rather nasty. The wound looks relatively recent but its near on impossible to determine what has caused it, however it does look as though it may have been scavenged upon,” Mr Donnelly said.
Pete Garbett, administrator of the ‘Cetal Fauna’ Facebook page, also had a look at the photos and while the cause of the injury was hard to determine, there was a chance the whale would survive.
“A bit hard to tell the cause as David mentioned above. These critters are pretty resilient and often defy the odds by surviving from worse injuries. Good chance it’ll be recognisable if encountered again,” Mr Garbett said.
Meanwhile, right now is the peak watching period off Narooma and the Far South Coast NSW with a steady stream of humpback whales swimming past on their return to the summer grounds in the Antarctic Ocean.
Charters boats at Narooma have reported multiple whales on each trip with individuals quite relaxed swimming up to boats and even breaching so close as to send spray onto those deck.