The gentle giants of the sea have been getting up close and personal with Eurobodalla residents lately, and on Wednesday a southern right whale and her calf came to within 33 metres of shore at Moruya.
Moruya resident Shane Gallagher headed down to Shelley Beach after hearing that a great white shark was attacking seals nearby.
When he got there he saw a whale and her calf swimming startlingly close to shore.
“I came down just before lunch, and they were about 40 or 50 feet offshore, and the mother had a big cut on its back,” he said.
“There were seals and pods and pods of dolphins around, and I thought that I would hate to see either of the whales attacked by a great white.”
It was thought that the calf may have been the one struck and injured by a ferry in Sydney Harbour earlier in the week, but Mr Gallagher said it was the larger of the two animals that had the cut while other witnesses said neither whale appeared injured.
“The whale was jumping out of the water; it was awesome,” Moruya resident Elise Paull said.
The whales were seen at Moruya Beach, Dolphin Beach, Shelley Beach, Broulee and Malua Bay.
National Parks and Wildlife Service officer Lawrence Orel said that the “cut” Mr Gallagher saw was probably a callositie, which is a normal growth made of keratin, the same substance as in fingernails.
“The calf is brand new, only a couple of weeks old,” Mr Orel said.
He said it was not unusual for southern right whales to swim close to shore, nor to be in this area.
“There are about 5000 of them left in the world, and about 100 of them visit the NSW coast each year,” he said.
The whales mate, breed and nurse their young here after feeding in the southern ocean off Antarctica.