Whale watching is always fun! Hooray!

Well, except for that whole waiting part or the risk of not seeing one at all. But even for researchers whose job it is to stare at the aquatic behemoths all day, a recent whale sighting in Australia was a HUGE DEAL.

The Cetacean Research Unit from Murdoch University has been in the midst of a massive study on the breeding and calving behaviors of southern right whales in the Great Australian Bight. And recently, their drone-tracking cameras happened upon this magical moment:


Aw, look! They're cuddling! GIF via MUCRU/YouTube.

The most obviously awesome part of it — besides the cuddles, of course — was this little white calf.

Southern right whales aren't usually white. According to the BBC, only 5% of right whales are born white, but the gray and black spotting takes over by the end of their first year. The initial white coloring isn't albinism, but there's not really any clear answer on what causes it either. And you certainly won't find any all-white adult southern right whales, which makes this rare sighting all the more amazing.

Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

There's also the fact that southern right whale populations have been hurting for a long time.

"Save the whales!" is a pretty common refrain because humans kind of decimated these massive, mysterious marine mammals over a few hundred years. But while the sperm whales and the hump whales have been doing pretty well with recovery and repopulation, southern right whales are still having a rough go of it.

The Great Australian Bight, where these photos were taken, is the largest southern right whale nursery in the world — but even that means there's only about 3,000 estimated to be living there, about one-fifth of their pre-whaling population.

Maybe that mama started life out as a white one? She's got the spots to prove it. Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

That makes it even more amazing that researchers would spot a white calf like they did.

Researchers have counted a whopping 80 or so newborn southern right whales this year. And that's a record-breaking high.

"Last year was one of our lowest years ever recorded, so the fact this year is high is a reassuring factor. [...] To know the whales are having a high year is very important," said Claire Charlton, a researcher from Curtin University, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This project will benefit the conservation of southern right whales by teaching us more about their health and reproduction," added Fredrik Christiansen, a researcher from Murdoch University, in an interview with BBC.

"WHALE hello there!" Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

And that's why these researchers were out taggin' and trackin' in the first place: to figure out why things are looking up for these magnificent leviathans.

Even though we've stopped actively killing whales in the whaling industry, we still can't say for certain how human industrial activity has continued to affect their lives and populations.

Oil drilling in particular is a pressing concern — and it doesn't take a spill for the machinery and noise pollution to do damage to the whales. (Of course, if there is an oil spill, even BP has admitted that it won't be pretty.)

By recording the sounds and movements made by the whales, as well as their reactions to the environment around them, researchers are better able to understand the entire ecosystem now, so they're learning how to keep those whales safe.

Photo via Fredrik Christiansen/Murdoch University, used with permission.

So that's the big question: Has the southern right whale population started to recover because companies like BP haven't been working underwater?

We can't say for certain. But it's likely, and it's worth figuring out before we make things worse.

"We've been assured that the exploration would have no negative impact on the whales [and] we'd like to think that is definitely the case, but we don't know," explained Haydyn Bromley of the Aboriginal Land Trust.

"What we would hate to see is the area devastated because perhaps someone made a mistake, or someone didn't calibrate something properly and next thing you know, this pristine area could be at risk."

The Great Australian Bight is home to hordes of incredible aquatic creatures — 85% of which can't be found anywhere else in the world.

Let's keep those creatures safe.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani wows audiences with his amazing musical talents.

Mozart was known for his musical talent at a young age, playing the harpsichord at age 4 and writing original compositions at age 5. So perhaps it's fitting that a video of 5-year-old piano prodigy Alberto Cartuccia Cingolani playing Mozart has gone viral as people marvel at his musical abilities.

Alberto's legs can't even reach the pedals, but that doesn't stop his little hands from flying expertly over the keys as incredible music pours out of the piano at the 10th International Musical Competition "Città di Penne" in Italy. Even if you've seen young musicians play impressively, it's hard not to have your jaw drop at this one. Sometimes a kid comes along who just clearly has a gift.

Of course, that gift has been helped along by two professional musician parents. But no amount of teaching can create an ability like this.

Keep Reading Show less