Whales inhabit every ocean and generally speaking, they spend most of their time in the polar regions, where they feed and whether northern or southern hemisphere, they migrate to warmer waters annually. The Humpback Whale population start to leave the waters of Antarctica in May and move north along the western coast of Australia and we are talking tens of thousands of whales, which move in small pods and are clearly visible, so much so, that there are special whale watching boats.
The Whale Watching Season
The northern section of the migration takes place from May to June, when Humpback and Southern Right Whales head for the warm waters off the Great Barrier Reef, where they will breed. When whale watching in Eden, the boats leave early morning and late afternoon and with a skilled captain who knows the region well, you get to witness the amazing surface behaviours of these majestic creatures.
The Southern Migration
The return journey is regarded as the best time to view the Humpback Whale migration, as the mothers shepherd their calves that were born in warm waters and take them to the cold polar waters for the first time in their lives. The mums like to take a route close to the shore and this offers a unique opportunity to observe the whales as they make their way back to their feeding grounds.
Whale Surface Behaviours
Whales exhibit many surface actions, which include:
- Blow – When the whale exhales through a blowhole on top of the head. This is one of the signs the skipper looks for when whale watching, as a huge white spray is visible when the whale surfaces and exhales.
- Tail Slap – The whale is vertical in the water, head down and slaps the fluke (tail) down hard on the water. They do this many times, which might be a playful activity or it could be to remove parasites, no one really knows for sure.
- Spy Hop – The whale sits vertically with its head out of the water and as the animal turns, it can see what is in the immediate area. It might well be that the whales are as curious as we are about them, and as we no longer hunt them, they have no fear when they encounter boats.
- Breach – The most spectacular of the many behaviours is the breach, when the whale dives down 50m and powers itself to the surface with its powerful tail, leaving the water and in some cases, completely out of the water. They spin and tumble, which demonstrates they thoroughly enjoy doing this and the people who witness a breach are not likely to forget the experience.
Now that you know about the Humpback Whale migration, search online for a whale watching operator and book your berth for a truly unique experience, as you observe the annual Humpback journey.