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.
4. The whales migrate very close to Port Stephens making whales easier to spot and shortening the travelling time to get to the whales.
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.
9. The whales migrate in the largest group of islands along the NSW coast, all of them National Parks and the scenery is spectacular.
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!