It’s time. We’ve prepared, eaten well to fatten up. We’re ready for the pilgrimage that will grow our family.
We glide and porpoise north through cool as ice waters of the sub-Antarctic, sometimes rolling in ripples of grey water currents. Haunting howls orchestrate to our swim.
We’re south of great southern lands where we swim in pounding rains that drill into vehement waves. We’ve not done this journey in three years.
Waters grow warmer as those great southern lands grow nearer. It’s time to part our pod, to continue our migration as only us females. A good-bye lob of my tail fluke, indented after colliding with the cold, tough wheel of a boxy creature unknown. Such pain.
Groans and wails from our males. They will eagerly await our return.
We swim to the coastline where high wave energy builds, effervescence in my blubber. Swells and breaking waves, squawking seagulls nose-diving from cliffs commanding deep waters … a masking to distract any acoustically sensitive predator like the killer whale. It’s the perfect nursery.
It’s time. She’s coming. Such pain that contracts in my bowl of creation. My echoing moans, a solid breath erupts as a jet of water from me.
Deep squeals, contractions grow quick. Sharp. A tail appears. Breathe … water squirts from my blow-hole.
A black body comes through, a white patch of an underbelly, a fin … all five metres of her are free. Release.
Coos and sprays. A tail slap.
My calf suckles my milk. She grows. We fin and tail slap together, swim and lunge to the deep water by the cliffs. We dive deeper and surge up, spraying from our blowholes before back slapping down again.
Four months pass and my calf is ready to leave the nursery. My hunger is supreme – time to re-join the pod.
We swim to our waiting males, this Southern Right Whale mother and calf, and as a pod again, we journey back to the Southern Antarctic waters.