“Connecting the community, scientists and managers for Southern Right Whale protection, conservation and education”

Southern Right Whales

Southern Right Whales visit Australia each winter between May and November, travelling an incredible 5,000 km to congregate in local waters that are warmer than their summer feeding grounds in the sub-Antarctic. Southern Right Whales are known to congregate off the southern coasts of South Africa, South America and New Zealand during this time. 

In South Australia, whales have been known to frequent the Encounter Bay area each year, in addition to Fowlers Bay and Head of the Bight. During Whale season, Southern Right Whales congregate in these areas to give birth, nurse their young, mate and to socialise.

This annual migration to South Australia is a key part of the whales’ breeding cycle. Females and their calves may reside in nursery areas for up to four months. During this time the mothers are unable to feed on krill and plankton that thrive in the rich waters of the sub-Antarctic. Thus, it is important that whales have the opportunity to rest during this time, both to conserve energy and to care for their young.

Encounter Bay

Recognized as the waters that extend between Newland Head and the Murray Mouth. (On the southern coast of Victor Harbor and Alexandrina councils.) Encounter Bay is currently listed as an ’emerging’ calving aggregation area for Southern Right Whales. * A status that assumes less than 3 calves are born at or near the Bay each year.

However, locally collected data shows that there are now more than 3 calves per year born in our waters, with the average for Encounter Bay equating to 5 calves per year.  This increased number advocates a potential upgrade in status. A change that would see Encounter Bay listed as an ‘established’ aggregation area. Allowing for better protection of Southern Right Whales and acknowledging the Bay as a critical area for the protection of this endangered species.


The Encounter Bay Right Whale Study (EBRWS) is a citizen science project designed to research and monitor Southern Right Whales within Encounter Bay.

Objectives of the EBRWS are achieved via:

  • Establishing a local Encounter Bay photo-identification catalogue.
  • Contributing data to national Southern Right Whale assessments.
  • Investigating abundance, residency, distribution and movements of Southern Right Whales in the Encounter Bay area.
  • Assessing the connectivity and movement of Southern Right Whale from Encounter Bay with the other calving/aggregation areas across South Australia.

Thus ensuring the conservation management and protection of whales in our waters.

How can you contribute?

Our citizen scientists goal is to collect clear photos of the top and both sides of the whale’s head. This provides a complete visual map of the individuals unique callosity pattern.
If you have clear identifying photos of a Southern Right Whale, the EBRWS team would love to hear from you.

EBRWS Whale identification Catalogue

Encounter Bay Right Whale Study collate and maintain a comprehensive Southern Right Whale catalogue of over 60 whales who have visited the local Encounter Bay Sanctuary Zone.

Contacting EBRWS

Phone: (08) 8552 8822 – Mobile: 0409 09 3345 – Email: info@ebrws.com.au

Please visit www.ebrws.com.au  for more information.

*Under the National Conservation Management Plan for the Southern Right Whale 2011-2021.