Originally written by STEVE ROBERTSON
IF we could understand all those beeps and squeaks that whales emit when they visit our shores, the message might well be “When I say no, I MEAN NO.”
Department of Sustainability and Environment whale researcher Mandy Watson has been keeping a close eye on the three southern right whales wintering in Portland Bay just off Nuns’ Beach and thinks two of them are males desperate for some “action”.
“The female is possibly already pregnant and has not the slightest desire to mate with either of the two males, but they are very persistent,” Ms Watson explained. “She’s so bored with their advances she often swims upside down, just to discourage them. But they won’t give up. They will spend 20 or 30 minutes circling, trying to seduce her, and then they have to rest. It’s pretty tiring, which is probably why they haven’t had the energy for any spectacular displays like breaching.”
Ms Watson predicted this frustrated courtship could continue all season until their passion finally cools off and they dejectedly swim back to Antarctica, the whale equivalent of a cold shower.
Could the amorous males have offered her gifts of jewellery or flowers to improve their chances? Probably not.
But perhaps if they’d volunteered to clean off her barnacles…