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Grand mother Nala

When Nala was sighted in 1998 she was with her calf Pumba and was extending her fluke well above the surface of the water with her underbelly upturned just below the surface. Pumba circled around Nala's fluke stem and submerged for one to two minutes at a time, to take in milk.

Above: Sunset Fluke of Nala 1997.

Humpback calves do not suckle from the mother's teats. The mother pumps the fat rich milk onto the extended tongue of the calf. It is an efficient method of feeding that would conserve the energy of the calf, as well as safeguarding against any wastage.

There have only been a few humpback whale mothers, observed in Hervey Bay, who adopt the novel fluke-up method of feeding. Nala on average remains in the fluke-up position for 8 to 11 minutes at a time during which time her calf may surface three times.

In 1995 a television documentary Angels of the Sea was produced and shown on channel seven. Footage taken in 1992 of a mother involved in fluke-up feeding was used in the film. While reviewing the 1992 documentary footage in late 1996, Trish recognised that the fluke-up feeder was in fact Nala, thus extending her life history information.

Nala in fluke-up feeding position, Pumba at the surface.

Pumba breaching.

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Humpback Icon Film by Mark Francis Franklin,
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