Pygmy blue whales visit SA's waters

Pygmy blue whales visit SA’s waters

It might be rare to spot a pygmy blue whale in the wild, but it’s worth brush­ing up on your knowl­edge just in case.

The largest ani­mal on earth – the blue whale – whose tongue alone can weigh as much as an ele­phant, can be sea­son­al­ly found off the coast of South Australia.

The small­er but still very large pygmy blue whale is a sub­species of blue whale that vis­its SA’s waters on their migra­tion route between the Sub­trop­i­cal Con­ver­gence ocean­ic region along the south­ern and west­ern Aus­tralian coasts to Indonesia.

While sight­ings of these mag­nif­i­cent ani­mals are rare, it’s this time of year dur­ing the warmer months that pygmy blue whales feed on krill at the Dun­troon Basin and Bon­ney upwelling loca­tions near SA’s East­ern Spencer Gulf,South­ern Spencer Gulf, Low­er Yorke Penin­su­la and Upper Gulf St Vin­cent marine parks.

The Bon­ney upwelling brings nutri­ent rich warm water that sup­ports a smörgås­bord of krill for the whales and oth­er marine crea­tures to feast on.

Whale of a tale

In mid-Octo­ber a pygmy blue whale was sad­ly strand­ed at the pic­turesque remote beach at Point Dav­en­port Con­ser­va­tion Park, on the south coast of Yorke Peninsula.

The whale was found in an inter­tidal sec­tion of the Dav­en­port Creek Sanc­tu­ary Zone in the Low­er Yorke Penin­su­la Marine Park – a nation­al­ly impor­tant wet­land that is more well-known as a nurs­ery for fish than it is for sight­ings of blue whales.

Pygmy blue whales visit SA's waters

The near­ly 15-metre whale was ema­ci­at­ed with exten­sive blis­ter­ing, and was clear­ly sick, beyond res­cue. Local staff did all they could but unfor­tu­nate­ly the ani­mal passed away a cou­ple of days later. 

The SA Muse­um under­took a necrop­sy onsite and recov­ered the skele­ton of the whale for research and edu­ca­tion­al purposes.

Uncov­er­ing the mys­ter­ies of SA’s seas

The unfor­tu­nate strand­ing of the pygmy blue whale brings to the sur­face the array of spec­tac­u­lar marine life under SA’s waters.

Like pygmy blue whales, many mys­te­ri­ous ani­mals live in our coastal and ocean­ic waters that are rarely spot­ted by humans. Strand­ing of these ani­mals gives us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn more about the secret life of these creatures.

Strand­ed, beached… but why?

There is still so much to learn about the rea­sons why whales and oth­er marine ani­mals become stranded.

The infor­ma­tion gained through the Yorke Penin­su­la inci­dent can help experts around the coun­try to bet­ter under­stand the biol­o­gy of the majes­tic blue whale.

Check out the footage below cap­tured at Point Dav­en­port Con­ser­va­tion Park, which shows res­cue staff attend­ing to the strand­ed pygmy blue whale.

If you find a strand­ed whale or any oth­er marine ani­mal in dis­tresscon­tact the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment, Water and Nat­ur­al Resourceson 0427 556 676. Do not approach the ani­mal – for their safe­ty and your own. 

Inter­est­ed in see­ing a whale for your­self? See our top spots forwhale watch­ing.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living