Watchers see a whale of a birthday party
Coffs Harbour local and amateur photographer Steve Bullock took the magical shot while he was out on a whale-watching cruise on the Spirit of Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.
Mr Bruce said he's never seen a picture like it.
"It's just off-the-wall. I've never seen anything like it. She came up to the boat (with the calf), and she was being hustled by another whale. Males don't kill or eat calves, so maybe it was another female who had lost a calf.
"She was shepherding the baby away from the other whale, and did about four or five 360 degree turns, nudged the baby and it floated on top of her."
Mr Bruce said he wouldn't be surprised if this image was a world first.
"I've never seen a newborn photographed like that. You get films and photographs of them swimming in the water, but never on top of their mother like that," he said.
He said that since whales have multiplied in numbers, it is not so important for them to head further north before giving birth.
"This female probably left Antarctica a little late, and just like humans have premature babies, so do whales," Mr Bruce said.
"Luckily Coffs Harbour is the first of the warmer waters, so she will probably hang around for a week or two, and make sure the little one is strong enough before she continues north."
Mr Bruce said this whale-watching season has been the best yet.