Warrnambool whales

Warrnambool Whales

A couple of weekends ago we saw the most amazing thing: 12 Southern Right Whales

Six mother and calf pairs lounged about on the surface of the water, seeming basking in the late winter sun. Their great puffs of breath sending salt spray high into the air. The babies lolling about and splashing in the shallow water. It was the most spectacular whale sighting we’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing, and it was from shore.

Warrnambool is not high on anyone’s tour list in southern Australia. It’s a little beach town just past the western end of the Great Ocean Road. In the summer it’s hopping with beach goers and holiday makers, but in the winter it seems to roll up in it’s sidewalks for a nap. It’s in the winter that the whales come.

July through September the mothers can be relied upon to turn up in “nursery bay” as the locals call it, to calve and raise their young until they’re strong enough to make the long swim to their far off feeding grounds. This particular bay is shallow and protected, so their is less risk of sharks and orca preying on their young. For three whole months they hang out and watch the people watching them.

Here’s the spectacular part: They can be seen from shore!! The whales are only a few hundred meters off of the beach. So close that I spent my morning worrying a bit about them becoming beached, but apparently that’s not a problem. There are no boats in the water harassing them, only a few surfers riding the breaks that are well inside the whales’ nursery. A viewing platform has been built and folks come from far and wide to watch the whales and celebrate the return of a species that was hunted almost to extinction!

I often feel conflicted, writing about places to go and see wildlife or “eco-tourism” as it seems to just increase the risk to the animals. In this case, I’m so excited to tell every traveler I know about this quiet little corner of Australia with a very big secret. There is no risk to the animals and it may just be your best chance ever to see many whales, mother and calf pairings, at close proximity with absolutely no stress or danger to the animals whatsoever.

We took some video of one of the baby whales having a play:

Posted by | Comments (1)  | September 17, 2013
Category: Oceania

One Response to “Warrnambool whales”

  1. Eitan Herman | Places to visit Says:

    many many thank Jennifer Miller and Warrnambool whales.What a unique post. Amazing photos.I won lot of information about Warrnambool whales………..