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The primary-ever footage of a blue whale calf suckling, filmed by a snorkeller in East Timor in South-East Asia, has been launched.

“It’s definitely not a new child calf,” says Karen Edyvane on the Australian Nationwide College in Darwin, “however it’s clearly nonetheless suckling.”

Edyvane says capturing the footage was a unprecedented achievement that had by no means been managed earlier than anyplace. The behaviour was filmed by a snorkeller on an eco-tourism voyage in 2022 who was swimming with pygmy blue whales off the coast of the nation’s capital, Dili, however has solely been launched now.

Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the most important identified animal to have ever lived on Earth and may attain lengths of over 30 metres and a weight of just about 200 tonnes. The subspecies of pygmy blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) discovered off East Timor are marginally smaller, reaching most lengths of 24 metres.

Blue whales calves don’t connect to their mom after they feed – she releases oily milk into the water, which is then swallowed by the calf.

The feeding calf within the video is massive, says Edyvane, and doubtless in its second yr with its mom – blue whales wean at three years.

Different key blue whale behaviour has been glimpsed and filmed within the space as a part of a decade-long analysis and citizen science project. Edyvane, who leads the mission, says {that a} database of 2700 pygmy blue whales has been collected since 2014, revealing that East Timor could host one of many world’s greatest migrations of the creatures.

New child calves, courtship and pre-mating and feeding behaviour have all been confirmed.

“We haven’t seen a penis but, however we’ve seen some very amorous adults getting very funky with one another,” says Edyvane.

Capri Beck at Western Australia’s Division of Water and Environmental Regulation, says till not too long ago nobody realised simply what number of blue whales have been migrating off East Timor.

Capturing the footage was extremely fortuitous, she says. Blue whales are sometimes far offshore in areas which can be onerous to get to, says Beck. “To even be capable to be within the water with blue whales is extremely uncommon, not to mention to be within the water on the proper time and the precise place to movie a calf suckling.”

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