2021 Whale Watching end of season wrap up

Whale Watching

We had an amazing 2021 whale season aboard Australia’s most modern luxury whale watching vessel, Spirit of Migaloo and its sister, Kaiala. We saw over 1300 humpback whales and a variety of marine wildlife.

Approximately 35,000 humpback whales took part in the great annual migration from Antarctica to the warm waters of Northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.  Many slowed down their journey to hang out on the Gold Coast to breed, give birth and calves learning how to be a whale or just put on a show for keen whale watchers.

Find out more about the 2021 Gold Coast whale watching season below.

Whales galore

The Humpback Highway was bumper to bumper during the 2021 whale season. Our cruises saw over 1300 whales, with an average of seven whales per tour.

We saw a record number of competition pods with a total of 21. A competition pod describes the behaviour of surface-active whales,  with an adult female whale being pursued by multiple adult males, also known as bulls. The sizes of these pods can range from as little as 3 to Pod size can range from 3 to 20 humpbacks.

We got mugged!

Only a fraction of the world’s population are lucky enough to see whales; 75 of our tours were delighted to a mugging, the highest mugging on record. No, we aren’t talking about the ‘give me your wallet’ type of mugging, but the behaviour of a humpback when it swims close to the vessel.

The most memorable mugging of the 2021 whale season was when four humpbacks curiously approached the vessel. (See footage here). This incredible interaction went global and was shared on international news networks. The interaction showcased the sheer size of the whale in comparison to our ‘tiny’ crew.

Caption for imageThree incredible humpbacks mugging our vessel.

Dolphins, sharks and turtles, oh my!

Whale watching is about more than just whales. We see plenty of other exciting marine life, including dolphins, sharks, flying fish and sea turtles.

We were excited to spot multiple hammerhead sharks and even a rare sighting of a leopard shark! (identifiable by their leopard-like spots.)

We saw plenty of dolphins, in fact, we encountered over 1100 of the playful creatures. Keep an eye out on the bow of the boat as you cruise the Humpback Highway as they love riding the waves that the vessel creates.

A hammerhead shark was spotted on our Whale Watching Cruise.

Hours of research

Partnerships with the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management

contributed to over 500 hours of research which is equivalent to 21 days.

Our head researcher and fantastic cruise commentator, Laura Torre, crossed the ditch from New Zealand for research on calves in the Gold Coast Bay.  The study showed a 5% increase in calves born on the Gold Coast. We saw a total of 30 ‘2021 model’ newborns and over 120 calves.

Humpback whale calves clumsily learn how to ‘whale’ from their mother.

When will the humpbacks return?

Humpback whales begin their great migration between late April to late October. We can’t wait for their arrival next season, starting May 2022 on the Gold Coast.

Humpback whales will return to the Gold Coast in May 2022.

Whilst we’ve said goodbye to the humpbacks for the year, we can’t wait to have you join us for the 2022 season.  We say a huge thank you to our hardworking crew, passengers and researchers who made this season one to remember.

Click below to learn more about our other cruises whilst we wait for the return of our giant friends.


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