Early on the morning of Friday 13th October 1995 we sighted an extended fluke in the distance. We realised it was a Mother and Calf in feeding mode.

The calf was straying away from the Mother who surfaced quickly, bringing the Calf back to her and resuming the fluke up feeding position.

The mother had two very distinctive black circles on the upper part of her left-hand side under-fluke. These marks are permanent and will enable us to identify Venus throughout her life. She appeared very beautiful in the morning sunlight, her under-fluke was clean and white and the Calf was gentle and slow moving.

The names Venus and Cupid came easily for this appealing pair.

(Click photo to enlarge)
The two distinctive blacks marks towards the top of the left under-fluke show clearly. Cupid can be seen nudging in close to begin feeding.

Venus Venus Venus
Feeding requires patience and quiet persistence by mothers. Venus would lie in the fluke up position for 12 minutes at a time on a single breath, while Cupid surfaced to breathe two or three times in the same period. This sequence of pictures shows Cupid moving in towards Venus, ( Above left) poking up to have a check of the area, (Above centre) and then going down for another feeding session (Above right). Venus has the task of providing her calf with sufficient food to prepare for its first long journey to Antarctica.


Venus would surface and blow three or four times before returning to the fluke up position for a further 12 minutes. The huge blow reflects the work involved for her in this labour of love.


As we moved slowly away from the pair, Cupid was circling Venus in preparation for another feeding session. We had been quietly observing them for an hour. We learnt via radio contact with other vessels in the whalewatching fleet that Venus continued feeding Cupid for most of the day

The fluke up feeding position is only occasionally adopted by mothers, we have observed it about five times over the last eight years. At this stage we do not have enough information to determine why a mother chooses this feeding method. The more common method is for the mother to fully submerge for up to 12 minutes and for the calf to dive down to her two or three times in that period to feed. The fluke up method creates a unique opportunity to obtain a clear fluke ID as was the case with Venus. The distinctive markings on her fluke gives us a very high chance of encountering her again, hopefully next year in Hervey Bay with a much larger Cupid!

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Judi Dadds, Stephen Franklin, Desiree Prideaux, Carol Hunt, Shakya Jemison, Natalie Soltero, David Evans, Nikki Balzer, Brigitta Schrapp, Sylvia Arends, Jeanette & Jazlyn Hayton, Delphina Graf, Wouter Dijkman, Doug Moser, Darren Wong, Julie Mather, Amanda Larrimer, Debra Agland, Delphines Centre, Barbara Bolwell, Cheryl Buckpitt, Nik Jeanes, BJ Harris, Karin S'der, Samara Martin, Kim Bernhardt.

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