Rare sight off NSW coast prompts warning: 'It's illegal'

·2-min read

There's one newborn hogging all the attention off the NSW coast; a southern right whale calf born whiter than usual.

The calf and its mother are resting up before they head south to Antarctica.

A southern right whale with rare 'white' calf spotted off the southern New South Wales coastline. Source: AAP/Maree Jackson
A southern right whale with rare 'white' calf spotted off the southern New South Wales coastline. Source: AAP/Maree Jackson

Government conservationists are urging people to keep their distance from the mum and new bub spotted off the state's south coast.

National Parks and Wildlife Service's Andrew Marshall said it was rare to see a virtually white calf, thought the parks office says it is more of a brindle colour.

"Southern right whales are mostly very dark, although some have splashes of white called a blaze," he said.

"Its white areas will darken to grey as it ages. It's one of around one-in-30 southern right whale calves born with brindle colouring."

Genetics have something to do with it. The calf's mother shows pale grey areas indicating she has a recessive brindle gene.

A southern right whale calf needs 300 litres of milk a day to get to the weight needed to make the 5000-kilometre trip south.

It's illegal for a vessel to go within 300 metres of a nursing whale mother and calf, that includes people on surfboards, paddleboards and kayaks.

Drones have to stay 100 metres above the whales.

Boaters have been warned to keep their distance. Source: AAP/Maree Jackson.
Boaters have been warned to keep their distance. Source: AAP/Maree Jackson.

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