Tasmania's journal of discovery

Time to play in the Derwent

Southern right whales put on many boisterous mating displays this year on the lower Derwent River, especially in Fredrick Henry Bay, and seasoned observers reckon it was the best display in decades.

They’re now [August 2005] on their way north, but indications are that they will be back again in 2006 with increased numbers.

Historically, the Derwent Estuary was one of the favourite haunts of the southern right whale, Eubalaena australis. In the mid-1800s, the Reverend Knopwood recorded that residents of Taroona complained of being kept awake by the whales’ loud snorting noises.

At times, it was considered dangerous to cross the estuary in small boats due to the large numbers of whales — sometimes as many as 60 at a time.

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