ABOVE: Venus adopts the fluke-up feeding position for her 1995 calf, 'Cupid'. She maintains this position for hours to ensure that the young calf gets the food needed to prepare him for the long journey to Antarctica. The two distinctive black dots on the upper left under-fluke make her easy to recognise and we saw her again with a new calf 'Cherub', in 1998.
(Photo: Trish Franklin)
|Mothers with young calves spend many hours feeding their young. A young calf can consume up to 120 gallons of milk per day. The mother's milk is a highly rich substance and contains a high level of fat. Young calves can double their length by the end of the nursing period.
Feeding usually takes place with the mother submerging in a horizontal position for approximately 8 minutes at a time with the young calves surfacing for air four or five times during the 8 minutes.
The older calves with a little more body weight finding it harder to submerge, are sometimes fed with the mother adopting a vertical position.