Photograph shows whale’s first breath

The moment a mother humpback whale lifted up her calf to take its first breath has been captured on camera in Australia.

Researchers were surveying humpback whales off Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia when they noticed blood around a female.

On closer inspection, they noticed a calf struggling to breath before the mother dived beneath the surface to lift up her new born and allow it to take its first breath.

Micheline Jenner, of the Centre for Whale Research, said it was an extraordinary moment.

“The cow held the calf gently in this position for about 10 seconds while it took what we now understand to be its first breath of life”, she said.

After taking its first breath the calf was able to swim in the water beside its mother.

The newborn, named Tantabiddi after the entrance to the reef where it was born, would have measured about five metres long and weighed up to 1_ tonnes. Its mother, up to 15 metres long, could have weighed up to 45 tonnes.

The footage is also thought to be the first time a humpback whale has been filmed giving birth in the wild.

The research team did not expect to see a birth as the normal calving grounds are usually 600 miles north and suspect it could have been a premature birth.

There are also concerns that human activities that make it more difficult for whales to make progress up the coast could be causing the whales to give birth away from the normal area.