White by the coastline, an albino whale calf follows its mother on their annual migration

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Tenderly letting her child swim ahead, the mother whale keeps a watchful eye on her offspring.

For the infant ‘southern white whale’ is an albino, standing out in the glorious South Africa sunlight with a body that is almost entirely white, with just a few speckles of black skin.

The sight was captured by helicopter by a safari tour group, who watch the whales as they trek up from near Antarctica for their annual mating season.

The mother and offspring seemed happy together, staying close as they hugged the shorelineThe images – snapped high above the shorelines of South Africa – show the majestic mammals’ annual migration towards the coastline to mate

The mother whale and albino calf splash through the stunning blue waters in The Cape, South AfricaThe mother whale and albino calf splash through the stunning blue waters in The Cape, South Africa

The images - snapped high above the shorelines of South Africa - show the majestic mammals' annual migration towards the coastline to mateThe mother and offspring seemed happy together, staying close as they hugged the shoreline

Each winter southern right whales flock to the coastlines to mate – with the animals preferring to feed and breed on the coastlines for their abundance of food and safe harbour.

When the whales began appearing, brothers Evan and Dave Austin, who set up African Wings flying safari company, took to the skies to capture the spectacle on camera.

The whale is likely to be albino, however – as the white patches on the other whales are formed by mostly-harmless bacterial colonies, it is possible the calf is just a little too covered over.

In one shot the albino calf can be seen closely swimming by its mother’s side. Another shows males ferociously vying for the attentions of a female.

Playing around: Male whales court a female in shallow water off the Cape Peninsula, South AfricaPlaying around: Male whales court a female in shallow water off the Cape Peninsula, South Africa

Brothers Evan and Dave Austin captured these images by helicopterRound in circles: Brothers Evan and Dave Austin captured the images of the whales courting each other by helicopter

The giant animals – which weigh an astonishing 60 tonnes at their heaviest – flap around in a feeding frenzy.

But there is sadness behind their name: the southern right whale gained the moniker from hunters, who viewed that it was the ‘right’ whale to target.

Their slow-moving nature led to their population being decimated – forcing it to the brink of extinction as whalers slaughtered an estimated 20,000 – and their bodies would rise to the surface when killed.

They are also friendly and slow-moving beasts who are quite curious about ships – which made them easy prey.

It was only when they became protected that the numbers rose to some 4,000 in the wild.

The beautiful Cape Peninsula, South Africa: The right whales love to swim near the coast, as it offers them protection and foodsThe beautiful Cape Peninsula, South Africa: The right whales love to swim near the coast, as it offers them protection and foods

The pair were not the only whales in the area: These males were on the look-out for mates around the peninsulaThe pair were not the only whales in the area: These males were on the look-out for mates around the peninsula

Smile for the camera: The animals are seen face-on, perhaps curious about the loud buzzing object in the skySmile for the camera: The animals are seen face-on, perhaps curious about the loud buzzing object in the sky

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