Imagine Cruises was treated to a rare display on Monday 25th June Afternoon Whale Watch Cruise. More then 50 Pilot Whales were sighted near Cabbage tree Island, moving through three groups of obviously agitated Humpbacks.
Pilot whales usually travel in large family groups accompanied by calves and the males can grow to around 8 metres and are particularly susceptible to becoming stranded on the coast although exactly why this happens remains a mystery.
The animals named “pilot whales” because it was believed that pods were “piloted” by a leader. Pilot whales are mostly dark grey, brown or black, but have some light areas such as a grey saddle pitch behind the dorsal fin. Adult females reach a body length of approximately 5.5 m, while males reach 7.2 m and may weigh up to 3,200 kg.
As the months start to sail by in 2012 it will not be long before around 14,000 Humpback whales start their Northern migration and pass right next to Port Stephens doorstep! There is only about 2 months to go before we will see the first of the whales so keep reading to see why Port Stephens is the place to be when they arrive…
1. Whale watching in Port Stephens is conducted in what is the largest Marine Park in New South Wales (98,200 hectares). The Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.
2. Nelson Bay Whale Watching runs for 6 months of the year. It includes the Northern migration from mid May to August when Humpback Wahles migrate to their calving ground in the coral sea. The Southern migration from August to mid November when the mothers and newborn calves make their way back down to the feeding grounds in Antartica.
3. Over 14,000 Humpback whales are expected to migrate up the East coast in 2011, making the chance to see the spectacular giants very reliable They will start passing Port Stephens by mid May.
5. All Whale Watching cruises from Nelson Bay include a dolphin watch cruise. 3 different types of dolphins use the marine park: Over one 100 coastal bottlenose dolphins (100kg) can be found in the bay and are sometimes visited by their cousins the offshore bottle dolphin (up to 650kgs.) On most occasions the friendly short beak oceanic common dolphins (up to 100kgs) can be seen in very large pods when sailing past the offshore islands.
6. 8 species of whales can be seen in the park: Humpback whales (30t), Minke whales (9t), Southern Right whales (80t), False killer whales (2.5t), Sei whales (40t), Pilot whales (3.5t), Brydes (pronounced brudus) whales (30t), Fin whales (90t) and Orcas, these 6 to 9t killer whales have been seen in our waters but sightings are rare…
7. Cabbage Tree Island is unique attracting a Seal colony and a rare species of Petrel. During the whale season we regularly stop along the rocks to observe the Seals. Other wild life like sea turtles and little blue penguins are often part of the cruise.
8. Bird watching is ideal during whale watching, it’s a time when Gannets congregate in large flocks to feed and the Short tail shearwaters come by the thousands to nest on Broughton Island. Its cousin the Fluttering Shearwater is often seen in big flocks hovering over the water. Magnificent albatross like the Yellow-Nose Albatross are commonly seen, on some occasions the Sooty Albatross and a variety of Petrels are sighted. Some are residents of the Park like Wedge Tail eagles and the White Breasted Sea eagles, soaring above the headlands keeping check on the fish below.
10. Whale watching is conducted along a scenic coast line composed of 2 large National Parks, the Tomaree National park to the South and the Mayall River National Park to the North. The Bay with its scenic volcanic headlands is itself twice the size of Sydney harbor and offers awesome views.
11. Whale watching in Port Stephens is so good that it can be done from the points and Headlands. One of the best view points is Telegraph point from Boat harbour just a short drive from Nelson Bay, but of course your best chance to have a great encounter and the closest view is from a whale watch boat.
12. Sailing is the ultimate way to whale watch, it’s so quiet you can hear them blow!
Imagine getting to see whales this close in Port Stephens. While we do get to have regular up-close and personal sightings with Humpback Whales on our Whale Watch trips, this video actually took place off the Santa Cruz coast.
A pod of humpbacks has been feeding on anchovies close to the shore in recent weeks. The area has become a huge draw card for locals and tourists as the whales lunge out of the water to feed on the anchovies close to the surface. Several surfers and kayakers have reportedly been knocked into the water as they try to get up close and personal with these awesome creatures.
Local police are doing their best to keep people at a safe distance, but looking at the video below, they haven’t been entirely successful.
It is very important to keep in mind that deliberatly swimming this close to Humpback Whales in Australia is not only very silly and dangerous but also illegal!
Picture: Damian Shaw Source: The Sunday Telegraph
MEET mini Migaloo – the baby albino humpback whale that’s been making a big splash off the NSW coast.
The playful calf, aged between two and five months, thrilled hundreds of whale watchers at Bondi Beach yesterday, as it passed Sydney with its mother on its migration south about 11am yesterday.
Lapping up the attention of one group of tourists aboard a Whale Watching Sydney vessel as it passed by, the youngster joyfully jumped out of the water several times as if to pose for the cameras.
While it would take a DNA test to remove any doubt, National Parks whale expert Geoff Ross said it was “highly likely” the calf was the offspring of the famous Migaloo – the world’s only all-white humpback whale.
Migaloo, spotted last Sunday off Cape Byron on the state’s northern coast, is now swimming past Eden, about a week ahead of Migaloo Junior and the mother.
“It’s a beautiful, very healthy calf,” Mr Ross said. “The chances of it being Migaloo’s are high. I’m very surprised to see two albinos so close together in distance.
“Even if you have one albino, it is very rare for the melanistic gene to be passed.
He said it would be Migaloo junior’s first visit to Sydney.
September 24th 2011
Passengers and Crew had a great Whale Watching cruise this morning when after about half an hour of waiting patiently off Port Stephens these two Humpback Whales decided it was time to play and put on an excellent display of Tail Slapping!
Humpbacks will use these giant tail muscles as a form of self defence against predators such as Orcas or Sharks but this was a great display of them using their tails for fun!
With the Southern migration starting up we can expect to see alot more videos like this one popping up, especially when the calves start passing by and showing off for the Whale Watch boats…