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In the summer of 2009, Pacific Whale Foundation’s Australia field season research team consisted of Pacific Whale Foundation President Greg Kaufman and researcher Annie Macie. Annie, intrepid researcher and blossoming humpback photographic expert, celebrated her 24th birthday in August while she and Greg were doing research in the Whitsundays Islands in Queensland.
Greg and Annie’s research had been somewhat stymied thus far that month by unfavorable weather conditions, and Annie was anxious to see some whales. Greg promised that, if they were to encounter a newborn calf that day, they would dub it Annie in honor of her birthday.
Low and behold, they did sight a newborn that day! They came upon a mother and a newborn calf on the morning of August 23 between North Molle Island and the mainland. The calf, “Annie,” was breaching and fluke slapping, wishing our Annie a happy birthday. “Annie” may in fact be either a female or a male – Annie and Greg were not able to ascertain the sex during their introduction.
Annie and Greg did manage to get a great fluke identification shot of “Annie.” We therefore proudly offer “Annie” for adoption. We will be able to track any sightings of the calf with his or her mom during the 2009 research season, and in the future we hope to be able to track sightings of “Annie” alone.
A Summer of Breeding
Humpback whales are migratory animals. With very few exceptions they spend part of the year feeding in cold waters rich with krill and small fish, and migrate to warmer waters for the rest of the year to mate and bear their young.
While northern hemisphere humpbacks migrate south to warmer waters in the winter, he humpbacks of the southern hemisphere migrate to warmer waters in the “summer” months. Many spend these months off the coast of Australia. Pacific Whale Foundation conducted research in the summer of 2009 in Port Douglas, the Whitsundays Islands, and Hervey Bay in Queensland, and in Eden.
During these months, the whales mate. Pregnant females return the following summer to bear their young. Over the next few months, the mothers fast while the calves feed, grow, and prepare for the long journey back to the feeding grounds.