If you want to see some whales, best to hurry up and get yourself on a boat to Australia, because the big migration has just begun. The humpback whales are officially moving from their annual feeding grounds in Antarctic and Tasmanian waters and making the long journey north to warmer waters so that they can begin breeding. If you happen to be in Australia you may get the chance to see some of these great beasts breaching. Areas renowned for having the best whale watching experiences include Sydney Harbor, Eaglehawk Neck and Great Oyster Bay.
As the season started off, those around Sydney Harbour had nothing to complain about, and the area saw multiple breaches. Many were caught off guard by the sudden appearance of the whales and some kayakers even had a few close calls (and no doubt some truly amazing close-up experiences).
Given that the humpback whale populations have seen increases over the last few years, this year’s migration is expected to be quite exceptional. They’ve come a long way from the near-extinction levels that they faced in the recent past. An estimated 12 to 14 thousand whales are believed to be in the migration, with about 10 to 20 passing by each day during the start of the season and that number escalating to around 200 daily during the peak of the season in June and July.
Whale protection departments will be working overtime to ensure that people keep their distance from the giant mammals. Whales can become particularly defensive when traveling with their calves and noises from people or boats can upset them. The penalties for interfering with the whales are steep, amounting to up to $11,000 in fines and two years in prison. So if you plan on going to watch, best not to get too close. Other agencies will be assisting with incidents that involve whales getting caught up in ropes or fishing nets. This is a fairly common problem that saw 12 occurrences last year and with rising populations could see even more this time around.
So if you have the time and money, a trip to Australia would be a good bet this year to catch these record whale numbers. Me, I’m broke, so I’ll just have to catch some video on the YouTube and hope that I have enough money for the next time around.