Whale Watching in Australia
Why do we love whale watching, especially the humpbacks, could it be because they are so much like us?
They may not look like us but we have common behaviours, they have developed sight, hearing and sense of touch. They are inquisitive, they sing (click here to hear them sing), they support and protect their young, they look after the sick and injured and they love to play!
Humpback whales, have a habit of bending their back when readying for a dive, this accentuates the hump in front of their dorsal fin and lead to their name.
After feeding in the southern arctic waters, for up to four months, the humpback whales set off for warmer waters to mate and give birth. During this time they do not feed, but live off their blubber from their feeding season. Their return journey is almost 10,000 kilometers with an average distance of 850 nautical miles or 1,500 kilometres, a month, with little or no rest. It has to be one of the world’s greatest migrations!
They travel in loose, small social groups depending on whether they are male, young, pregnant etc. the group size is normally no larger than 5 whales. The whales you would see along the Australia Coast make up part of the Southern Ocean Group. Some of them travel along the East Coast of Australia and others travel along the West Coast of Australia.
Mingaloo - The White Whale
We all love Migaloo, he is the albino (white) whale, officially he is a hypo-pigmented humpback whale. His name means “white fella” in the Aboriginal language. He was first discovered on 1991, and is thought to have been born around 1986, and was the only white whale in the world. Most of the information about Migaloo was gleaned from skin collected after he had breached and from his whale song.
Everyone breaths a sigh of relief when the first sighting of Migaloo takes place each season. He has been sighted as far north as Cape Tribulation in 2007. Migaloo even has his own website, check it out by clicking the link below.
In 2008 another white whale was sighted, the name given is Bahloo, meaning “moon spirit”, at this stage very little is known about Bahloo.
In September 2011 a 100% all white baby humpback calf was sighted. Everyone around the world was so excited, and it has been named unofficially MJ (Migaloo Junior), although the parentage cannot be confirmed until a DNA sample can be collected.
- They weigh up to 40 tons
- Up to 6 tons of their weight is blood
- 70% of their time is spent underwater
- Their heart measures between 1.2 to 1.5 metres long and weighs nearly 200kg
- When feeding, they eat up to 1,200 kg a day
- Gestation period is 11-12 months
- Weight of new born calf is 1-2 tons, they drink 40 kgs of milk a day and put on a kilo every hour
- Average life span is 50 years
- Current populations are under half of those pre-whaling.
There are numerous places to watch whales in Australia, during their migration as they move up and down the coast. Whale watching has become a big tourist draw card but there are very strict restrictions on the public's interactions with whales and all tour operators abide by these.
Queensland's Top Whale Watching Spots
All along the Great Barrier Reef
Cairns and the Ribbon Reefs
Hervey Bay The whales returning from the Great Barrier Reef have a few days rest here. The females will be with their calves
Stradbroke Island There is a whale walk with viewing platforms as well as the 1.1kilomentre walk around The North Gorge at Point Lookout, also with great viewing spots
Moreton Island (Tangalooma)
Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise The whales are usually only a kilomentre or two off the coast. It is also one of the rare points where you will find whales passing through all season and from the middle of August traffic heads in both directions
At the end of the whaling industry in 1963, there were only about 100 left, thankfully the figures are a lot healthier now. It is estimated there are now between 30,000 and 40,000 Humpback whale which is still under half the pre-whaling population.
The migration along the east and West coast is fairly evenly split although little is known as to whether there is interaction between the whales when they return to the Antarctic.
A few Whale Watching Tours
Enjoy a scenic cruise in Moreton Bay and the chance for the experience of a lifetime whale encounter as they pass by close to Brisbane. There is expert commentary from the Eco-Ranger, a light lunch and a stop over at Tangalooma Resort.
- Operates during June to October Whale season.
- Brisbane departure
- Breif Tangalooma stop over
- Lunch Included
The calm waters of Hervey Bay and Fraser Island are the perfect breeding ground for whales making it one of the best destinations for whale watching. With a longer season get ready for a tail slapping, pectoral slapping, spy-hopping day on the water.
- Small passenger numbers, means great viewing opportunities
- Full Buffet lunch
- Hydrophone to listen to the Whale songs
- June to November season
Get the best possible whale watching views from the safety of our large, open deck space, state of the art passenger vessel. Have a drink from the licensed bar, or a snack, as these majestic animals make their way along the Western Australian Coast.
- 2 hour whale watching cruise
- Licensed bar
- Courtesy pick ups available
- Free parking available
Explore Sydney Harbour before heading out past Sydney Heads and 'The Gap' on this 2 hour plus whale watching cruise. With live commentary on-board sail past some of Sydney's iconic landmarks before arriving at the best whale watching spots.
- Afternoon departure
- Departs Circular Quay or Darling Harbour
- Fast sea going catamaran
- Food and Drinks available for purchase