Humpback Whales come up from Antarctica hitting the south coast, then travel from east to west until they can round Cape Leeuwin, heading north finishing their northern migration north of Broome, where cows will give birth in warmer waters and the sexually active whales will mate this year.
We start to see the first whales in June, more are now being seen earlier with numbers increasing by around 10% per year. Humpbacks are called restless travelers and as the name suggests they are continually moving during their migration north.
In Albany’s waters many Humpback Whales are spotted traveling in a line from Michaelmas & Breaksea islands on the edge of King George Sound to Bald Head (The Humpback Highway). If you are looking out to sea from the south coast you may also see Humpbacks traveling past.
Although weighing as much as 45 tonnes and being up to 16 metres in length, Humpbacks can at times be very active and we have counted one Humpback breaching more that 25 times (Of course that's the picture we all wish to have on our lounge room wall).
Being a keen photographer, I try to place the boat in a position that enables you to get as close as we are allowed by law, also taking in to consideration the whales path and where the sun is, allowing you to get great pictures if you are lucky.
Most of the Humpbacks have traveled past Albany by mid to late August. On their return in November few Humpbacks travel the south coast, instead heading south from Cape Lewin, back to the southern feeding grounds where they have just supplemented their diet with bait fish over the past few months and are looking forward to a good feed.
Southern Right Whales
Southern Right whales also travel from Antarctica but stay along the south coast in many of the sheltered bays. Bulls will congregate in numbers and wait for the cows to arrive.
We are told by researchers that Southern Right whale cows will travel to the coast but only stay in the area for around 10 days to mate and then will return south, cows give birth back on the south coast, after a 11 month gestation period.
Southern Right whales at times get very curious and at times will lay along side the boat, even covering passengers with their smelly breath when they exhale. We were lucky enough to have a cow feed a calf along side the boat some years ago.
Many people believe that Southern Rights are very quiet and do not breach. Although southern right cows have a recorded length of 18 metres and a weight of 80 tonnes this is not the case and at times can be seen breaching or slapping their tails from the local beach (Middleton Beach).
The Population of Southern Rights is also increasing by around 8-10% and because of this as many as 35 whales have been seen between Middleton Beach and Gull Rock in one day. Southern Rights do not eat while along the south coast, so when they leave mid to late October, most whales will depart with in a couple of weeks.
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