(Click photo to enlarge)
The above photo of Nala was also taken in 1997. During this observation Nala was extending her fluke well above the surface between breaths. She was with an escort who was staying submerged below her for 33 minutes at a time. This behaviour continued throughout the day.
Below left: Nala in 1996 teaching Simba how to tail-lob. Below centre: Simba circles around Nala in the tail-up position between feeding sessions. Below right: Mothers and calves spend most of thier time resting and feeding. Often after a long feeding session calves will burst into active play. Here Simba demonmstrates his prowess at breaching.
|When 'Nala' was first sighted in 1996 she was with her calf Simba and was extending her fluke well above the surface of the water with her underbelly upturned just below the surface. Simba
circled around 'Nala's fluke stem and submerged for one to two minutes at a time, to take in milk (Centre Photo below).
Humpback calves do not suckle from the mother's teats. The mother pumps the thick 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 safe-guarding against any wastage.
There have only been a few humpback whale mothers, observed in Hervey
Bay, who adopt the novel tail-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.
The distinctiveness of her tail-fluke patterns means that the whale-watching fleet skippers and crews easily recognise her and let us know when she turns up in Hervey Bay.
In 1995 a television documentery 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. We have also seen a photograph of her taken in the Great barrier Reef in 1988. She was fully grown at the time so likely she is around thirty years old