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Whale Watching

Getting the perfect shot: Four tips to improve your whale photography

By | Whale Watching

Getting the perfect shot: Four tips to improve your whale photography

Whale Watching

Everybody wants to capture that ‘wow’ factor whale photo; the beautiful tail fluke, the perfect breach…only to end up with a blurry and grainy mess that only if you squint hard enough, you can see a whale. Here are four tips to up your whale watching photography game and bring humpback envy to all of your friends.

1. Patience

Whale watching is all about patience, and to capture the ultimate breach, it requires even more. Whales are wild creatures who swim by their own rules, making it hard to locate where they will appear. This elusive behaviour can be frustrating when you are pursuing the perfect shot. Firstly, find your ideal spot, preferably with the sun behind you. Secondly, listen to your captain. Your captain is knowledgeable in whale activity and will be your eyes and ears on your trip. Pay attention to what they have to say about whale behaviour as this will help you know what to expect and where to look.

2. Know your whales

Different species of whale have different types of behaviour, and to get those ‘wow’ photographs, it is important to learn what each behaviour means. If you are eager for a breach, keep an eye out for a fluke up dive. Humpbacks dive deep into the ocean to gain enough power to launch out of the water. On average a humpback whale will spend 7 minutes underwater, so keep an eye on your watch while you get your camera ready.

Heat pods, when a female is being chased by multiple males, are notorious for sudden changes in direction. As tempting as it is to keep moving back and forth from one side of the boat to the other, staying in the same spot may be a smarter strategy for spotting and photographing whales. Much like picking a checkout line in a supermarket, swapping at the last minute rarely works out for anyone.

3. Camera settings

Have you ever tried taking a photograph of a fast moving object only to get a grainy blur? It is important to adjust your digital or DSLR camera settings correctly to capture fast whale action. To do this, put your camera on shutter priority mode and adjust your camera’s shutter speed to at least 1/1000. 

If you don’t own a digital camera, you can also take amazing photographs using your iPhone. The iPhone has a ‘burst feature mode’ which takes photos of action as it happens by holding down the shutter button and releasing it when you’re done.

iPhone’s also offer ‘live mode’ which takes a photo and a video simultaneously. When live mode is turned on, it records a video for a few seconds before and after you take a photo. This feature is a life saver when you just missed out on a spectacular breach, as your phone will have automatically recorded the moments before. From here you can scroll through the video and select the photos you want or save it as a video. 

Note: Burst mode will not work when live mode is on.

4. Zoom

To zoom or not to zoom, that is the question. Depending on what type of zoom you have, you can more often than not be better off by ignoring zoom. There are two types of zoom functions: optical and digital. Optical zoom uses the physical lens of a camera to magnify an image without losing quality. This ensures crisp photo quality compared to that of the digital zoom seen on mobile phones. Digital zoom magnifies using the sensor and loses image quality the more you zoom.

If you don’t have optical zoom, wait to take photographs when the boat is stopped or close to the whales. By doing this, it preserves the image quality and can prevent image grain if you choose to crop it.

Most importantly, remember to have fun in your pursuit of the perfect photograph. It can sometimes be discouraging, but with practice, patience and following the tips above, you are on your way to becoming a pro whale photographer on your next Sea World Whale Watching Cruise.

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A whale watcher’s dream: Record numbers of whales expected in 2020

By | Whale Watching

A whale watcher’s dream: Record numbers of whales expected in 2020

Whale Watching

It is undeniable – 2020 has been quite the year of absurdity, confusion and chaos. We can, however, look forward with great anticipation to the annual migration of humpback whales passing through our local waters. With the world somewhat on pause, air and surface level water pollution has dropped significantly. We are now expecting the humpback whale population to be around 40,000 this year. This is where scientists estimate the population was prior to World War II. In the 1960s there were only about 150 whales left, so we are very privileged to have this group in 2020.

In the midst of social distancing, working remotely and studying online, a chance to be out in the fresh air and sunshine is well deserved. This year, whales were spotted in Port Macquarie heading north as early as April. Now, the Humpback Highway is experiencing rush hour, and the Gold Coast Bay is every humpback’s favourite pitstop. The main migration usually starts in June. These whales are heading north to the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef for mating and calving, and continue to pass by the Gold Coast in July and August.

 

After a brief pause, we are then treated to the same whales returning south – but this time, with their little calves! The young ones will be eager to show off their newly learned skills while they try to keep up with their mums. The whales will continue their journey south for a couple of months, all the way to the deep Southern Ocean and back to their feeding grounds in Antarctic waters. Here they will feed on a rich supply of Antarctic krill – the preference of East Australian humpback whales. The southern migration through Gold Coast waters lasts from September until November. This migration pattern to the north and then to the south is a constant in the whales’ lives. Many whales do this big swim every single year.

 

This year we are expecting even larger numbers of whales than recorded last year. We are very lucky to have one of the strongest recovering populations of whales off our coasts. Whaling was once common in Australia, but was thankfully banned in 1963. Another factor assisting in this recovery is that the entire coastline of Australia is designated as a whale sanctuary. Much of the Southern Ocean is also considered a sanctuary, and therefore hunting is not permitted. It is the combination of these protective measures that has allowed our whale populations to flourish.

 

If you (like most of us) have been cooped up at home for the past few months, why not hop aboard one of our state-of-the-art vessels and observe some humpback whales on their migration journeys. 2020 has been a strange year for many, but a day on the beautiful waters of the Gold Coast is enough to redeem any bizarreness.

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Why you should come whale watching with Sea World Cruises this 2020 Season

By | Whale Watching

Why you should come whale watching with Sea World Cruises this 2020 season!

Whale Watching

It’s the perfect time to explore your own backyard

With international travel off the cards – now is the perfect time for a stay-cation and explore your very own backyard! You’d be surprised to know how many locals have NOT been whale watching on the Gold Coast before. My response is quite simple, WHY NOT?! Now is the time to come out and experience one of life’s most incredible feats, the Humpback whales annual migration that sees them travel an astonishing 10’000km round trip. 

Lower numbers on boats means more room to move about the vessel

In response to COVID we had reduced our capacity on our vessels to ensure that our customers and staff can practise social distancing. With fewer people on the boats, there is plenty of room to move freely around the boats and everyone has a railside position when we get out to the whales. Make the most of reduced capacity, but don’t leave it too late to book as seats are filling up fast especially over the school holidays and weekends!

Bumper season with over 30,000 humpback whales expected to pass our coastline

This year, scientists have estimated over 30’000 Humpback whales will pass us here on the Gold Coast – that’s over 200 whales a day passing our coast! Humpback whales are known for their playful behaviour and most days we see them show many acrobatic displays including breaching, tail slapping and pec slapping amongst many other surface behaviours. Some days we are even lucky enough to get ‘mugged’! This happens when whales become interested in the boat and will spend time rolling around the edge of the boat, checking us all out, leaving us to wonder – who’s watching who?! 

Calves are starting to make an appearance

From the cold Antarctic waters, Humpback whales make their way up the east coast of Australia to the warm, safe waters of the Great Barrier Reef to mate and give birth. However in recent years, scientific studies on board our boats have recorded calves only days old, meaning they were born further south of the Great Barrier Reef, including right here off the Gold Coast! We start to see the appearance of calves from July, and already we have seen a handful on our tours this 2020 season. The calves will be here until the end of the season as they make their way south down to Antarctica to feed over the summer. 

At birth, calves are a little uncoordinated and rely on their mothers to lift them out of the water to take a breath of air. They are around 4m in length and are a light grey colour. At birth they also have a folded dorsal fin which will generally straighten out over the following days/weeks. Seeing a newborn calf is super special and very very cute! After a few weeks, calves start to gain more muscle and strength, and are keen to copy mum’s every move.. Including pec slapping, tail slapping and even baby BREACHING! It’s honestly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!

We guarantee you’ll have a whale of a time!

Whale sightings are guaranteed here at Sea World Cruises. That means that if we fail to find whales out there for you, you get to come back for free. Our crew are incredibly good at finding whales, and are all incredibly knowledgeable about Humpback whales. Our commentary is not only insightful but funny! From start to finish our skippers and crew will be sure to make your trip an unforgettable experience. 

We look forward to welcoming you aboard Sea World Cruises this 2020 whale watching season!

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Seven seasickness remedies that work and two that are myths

By | Whale Watching

Seven seasickness remedies that work and two that are myths...

Whale Watching

Sightseeing

If the thought of getting seasick is holding you back from booking a whale watching tour with us, fear not! Most of us have experienced seasickness at some point in our lives and we know how unpleasant it can be. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have an incredible day out on the ocean with the humpbacks with a little help and know-how. 

Seasickness is a form of motion sickness and is the body’s reaction of the inner ear balance system to the unfamiliar rocking motion of the vessel. When you are on a boat, you see walls and furniture and your brain instinctively knows from experience that they are supposed to be still. However because they are actually moving with the vessel and sea, the inner ear is placed under stress and that’s when nausea sets in. 

We spoke to a few of our skippers and crew to see what they had to say about avoiding seasickness. With hundreds of sea hours logged and years of experience under their belts, these salty sea dogs know a thing or two. They’ve put together this handy list of seven remedies that work and two to avoid.

Seasickness remedies that work

1. Avoid alcohol and stay hydrated

One easy way to reduce seasickness is to avoid alcohol before and during your tour. Alcohol affects the inner-ear mechanism that senses motion, so when you’re out on the open ocean, your inner ear is highly stimulated. If you’re trying to avoid getting seasick, stay away from alcohol altogether and keep yourself hydrated with a glass of water instead

2. Avoid greasy or acidic foods

Avoid heavy, greasy, and acidic foods in the hours before you travel. These types of foods – such as coffee, orange juice/grapefruit juice, bacon, sausage, pancakes – are slow to digest, and in the case of coffee, can speed up dehydration. Better choices include bread, cereals, grains, milk, water, apple juice, apples, or bananas. Do not skip eating but do not overeat.

3. Ginger

For centuries ginger has been known for its anti-nausea properties. Whether it’s in a ginger tea, a packet of crystalised ginger, or raw for that matter, ginger has been proven to reduce the effects of seasickness and even prevent it altogether. If the taste of ginger doesn’t appeal, you can buy ginger capsules at your local pharmacy.

4. It’s all about where you sit

Find a seat low to the water near the vessel’s centre of gravity. Try and get a seat on the lower deck as the higher up you go, the more you’re going to rock about. Make sure to also face the same way the boat is going as facing the wrong way can affect your vestibules in your inner ear. You want your eyes to relay the same movement cues as the direction of the boat. 

5. Inhale that fresh ocean air

If you can get some fresh air, that’s great. Try and get as much fresh air throughout the tour as you can. We are lucky enough that all of our vessels have plenty of open decks, so while you’re out there make sure to keep your eyes on the horizon. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spot the first whale of the tour! 

6. Keep it cool

You may feel the urge to rug up like you’re going to Antarctica while getting ready to go whale watching, but be careful not to overheat while out on the boat as it may bring on effects of seasickness. Wear layers of clothing so you can take a layer off if you need to. 

7. Medication

The most tried and true method of avoiding seasickness is motion sickness medication. When taken as directed this remedy is successful for the vast majority of people. If you are considering medication we recommend consulting your pharmacist first as these medications aren’t suitable for everyone. Our preferred product is Travacalm H.O. which comes in a chewable pill form. This product is sold on onboard, but we suggest buying your own before your tour as they should be taken an hour before departure for best effect. 

Whales

Seasickness myths to avoid

1. Sea bands

You may have seen people wearing them before, an elastic wristband with a plastic stud on each wrist. They’re meant to work by applying pressure on an acupressure point to each wrist. They’re safe to use and relatively cheap. However, we have tried and tested them and we’ve busted the myth. Sorry to say, but they just don’t work. More than anything they’re just a placebo effect.

2. Old wive’s tales

Several myths about curing seasickness have evolved. These include gently slapping the face of the Captain with a flounder three times, drinking a glass of iced water whilst standing on one leg and then singing Waltzing Matilda and lastly, a long-time favourite, having a wee tot of Navy Rum before bed the night before setting sail. Look in all honesty, we haven’t put these to the test, but they seem more concerned with providing entertainment for fellow passengers, rather than alleviating the person’s suffering. Stick to the above and you’ll have a great day.

So there it is ladies and gentlemen… SEVEN remedies that can prevent seasickness, and TWO that don’t. If you are concerned about the sea conditions, feel free to give our friendly reservation team a call on (07) 5539 9299. Last but not least, whatever the sea conditions are on the day, our skippers and crew are marine experts and there to help you, you are in good hands. 

Hope to see you onboard a whale watching tour with Sea World Cruises soon!

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Whale Watching with Kids: Everything you need to know

By | Whale Watching

Whale Watching with kids: Everything you need to know!

Whale Watching

Crew

School Holidays are the perfect time to get the kids out of the house and on a whale watching tour, however as a parent myself, there are always a few questions you are left wondering before you make the decision to book. So I’ve taken the opportunity to cover some of the more frequently asked questions that you need to know before you hit the open water. 

Is whale watching a suitable activity for my kids?

Yes! Whale watching is suitable for kids of all ages. Whale Watching is an incredibly exciting day out on the water, and it’s not just the whale watching but the whole experience from start to finish! 

A lot of the time, this is the first time kids have been on a boat, and that itself is such a novelty! Our skippers and crew are there to make your tour fun and memorable, and will do their best to ensure this. From helping your littlies spot their first whale, to taking turns at driving the boat! Our skippers and crew are not just professional but funny! They’ll leave you in stitches with a few cheeky jokes, but nevertheless you’re always in safe hands, with crew covering safety briefings, a life jacket demonstration and some rules to follow while out on the water with us. 

Will my kids get seasick?

Whale watching is an open water activity and is subject to the sea conditions on the day. Everyone is different and some suffer from seasickness a lot more than others. If you know your child suffers from seasickness, or motion sickness, it may be worth a trip to the pharmacist before your tour. We also sell Travacalm onboard, however they are not recommended for children under the age of 2, so please ensure you read the instructions carefully.

Tip – if you or your kids start to feel queasy, try and get them to keep their eyes on the horizon, get some fresh air, and always face in the direction the boat is going. You should also speak to a crew member as they know a thing or two about seasickness and are there to help you. 

Can I take my baby?

Yes, we are happy to have babies onboard. If sea conditions are not suitable on the day, our skipper may ask to reschedule your booking to a day that is more suitable for you and your baby, however this is relatively uncommon. You’ll also be glad to know that you can take your pram onboard, and there is a change table available at our Sea World Cruises terminal. 

Tip – Baby carriers are a great way to take your baby on a whale watching tour as it leaves your hands free to hold onto railings throughout the tour. 

What onboard activities are there for the kids?

At check in, make sure to grab a whale passport for each of your kids. The passport will keep your kids entertained on the way out to the whales and on the way home. They’ll find 8 missions inside the booklet to fill out and upon completion of 3 missions, kids can get a stamp from the captain. A great way to keep the kids entertained, plus remember their brilliant voyage onboard Sea World Cruises!

Other common questions

1. How long does the tour go for?

We all know kids get itchy feet if left for too long, so rest easy knowing our tour goes for 2hrs and 15mins. The perfect amount of time to spend with the whales, but not too long that they start swinging off the poles in boredom! After we’ve pulled away from the jetty at the start of the tour we’re only 10 minutes away from the seaway where we will head out into the open ocean and be on the lookout for the first whale of the tour. We then have just under 2 hours to spend with the whales during which time you may see whales breach, wave their pectoral fins at you, and many other types of surface behaviours that leave us all squealing in delight. Our commentary is informative and full of interesting facts about whales and other species of marine life you may encounter on the day, but it’s also fun and interactive! We’ll ask you questions, and have you shouting out and waving to the whales. It’s sure to be a whale of a time!

2. When is the best time to go?

This is probably the most common question we get, but honestly there is no ‘better time’. The whales are out there at all times of the day and it just depends on them and how active they’re feeling. Our morning cruises are very popular, however our afternoon tours are just as good, usually with fewer people, and incredible sunsets!

The season runs from late May – early November each year, allowing us to get out there with the whales for almost 6 months of the year! We start to see calves from mid-late June and we have even seen newborns here on the Gold Coast! 

3. My kids are always hungry! Do you have food and drinks onboard?

If you forget to pack snacks, do not fear! We have a cafe at the terminal where you can grab a hot toastie, a sandwich, tea, coffee and a range of snacks, which you can take onboard with you. Plus we also have an onboard kiosk where you can grab a packet of chips, choccy bar, or drink. 

4. Do you ever cancel tours?

 Yes, if it’s going to be very rough we will cancel the tour. We will try and give you as much notice as possible, however we will usually make the decision the day before around 4pm when the latest weather update comes in. If the sea conditions are border line, we may issue a rough weather speech and give a few different options that will give you the chance to make the best decision for you and your family. 

In saying all of this, most days are absolutely beautiful out on the water and we want you to have a memorable and enjoyable experience, so no need to stress. We will let you know if anything changes. 

Tip – please ensure you provide the mobile number and email address when booking incase we need to contact you!

5. What happens if we don’t see whales?

This year the season started even earlier than normal, so we are in the full swing of it now, but in the rare case that we don’t see whales on your tour, you can come out again for free to ensure that you do!

I hope that I’ve been able to answer all of your questions that may have been on your mind! If you have any other questions that are on your mind, give one of our friendly reservationists a call on 07 5539 9299 and they will be happy to help. 

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World Ocean’s Day 2020

By | Whale Watching

World Ocean's Day 2020

Whale Watching

Today, the 8th of June, marks World Oceans Day. Every year on this day, people from all over the world raise awareness about our oceans and their role in sustaining a healthy planet. Through a series of events, we are able to come together to highlight ways in which we can all help protect and conserve the oceans for future generations. This year in 2020, the focus for World Oceans Day is growing the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030, referred to as ‘30×30’. By protecting 30% of our oceans through a network of highly protected areas, we can help restore and ensure a healthy ocean for all.

What we’re doing for our oceans at Sea World Cruises

Here at Sea World Cruises we are passionate about the ocean, and are a huge advocate for #WorldOceansDay. For almost 6 months of the year, we are lucky enough to spend our days out in the ocean with the Humpback whales throughout their annual migration. We understand the vital role each and every animal has in maintaining a healthy marine environment, and it is up to all of us to help protect it for future generations. 

One of the ways in which we are helping to safeguard our oceans is through a partnership with Griffith University’s Centre for Coastal Management. In particular, helping to collaborate on research projects through the Marine Megafauna research program. This research theme focuses on extending knowledge about feeding, migration, habitat use and human impacts on whales and dolphins in coastal waters aiming to derive new management strategies for a better conservation and protection of marine mammals in urbanised coastal waters.

Most of the scientific data used in these studies is collected on board our vessels, so if you’ve been out on a whale watching tour with us in the past, or are planning on coming out with us in the future, you will most likely see the researchers conducting important scientific surveys. Through this partnership, numerous whale watching trips, and thousands of hours from dedicated researchers, a number of scientific publications have been published and revealed vital information about the Humpback whales that pass through the Gold Coast every year.

These publications help to not only increase our knowledge base about these gentle giants, but to also help inform better policy decisions that are critically important in building a foundation for a sustainable future. 

To find out more, you can visit the Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management, Marine Megafauna research page here.

Take action

So you’re probably wondering how you can help on #WorldOceansDay?

We’ve made it easy for you with a list of actions below. 

Sign the petition

More than ever, we need your help to protect our oceans. By signing this petition, you will be helping to convince world leaders to protect 30% of our blue planet by 2030. It’s simply not enough to ask our scientists to call for action. We need to show our support and join them, calling for our world leaders to step up and ensure our planet is sustainably managed. Together we can make a difference.

To find out more about the petition, click here

Join an event

There are hundreds of events you can find on WorldOceansDay.org that you can participate in, including one from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Save Our Marine Life and WWF Australia, about our Antarctic legacy and how we can help protect it. 

In East Antarctica, scientists have discovered a worrying feedback loop in which melting glacial ice sheets are accelerating the rate of ice melt and sea level rise. In this Facebook livestream event, Tim Jarvis will be discussing Australia’s next step in our Antarctic legacy and how we are leading the charge for an East Antarctic Marine Park. This Marine Park would help ecosystems build the necessary resilience against the impacts of climate change. 

Post on your social media

Help #WorldOceansDay to grow the movement to protect our blue planet by using the hashtag #ProtectOurHome. Post your favourite picture of the ocean, something you love about the ocean, or share some simple tips on how to protect the ocean.. anything about the ocean! Remember the more we tag, the more presence and impact we will have. 

Join us on a whale watching tour!

With the whale season now up and running, we are offering daily whale watching tours from Main Beach, Gold Coast. Come out and experience these gentle giants for yourself, it’s an experience one never forgets. Plus you will learn all about Humpback Whales through our informative commentary, whilst seeing the whales in their natural environment. Give us a call on 5539 9299, or jump on our website to secure a spot. 

Remember, there are limited spots available due to Covid restrictions, however we are ensuring that all regulations are strictly adhered to, including social distancing, and extra cleaning on all vessels and terminals.

We hope that you will join us where ever you are in the world on June 8 to celebrate World Ocean’s Day!

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2020 Whale Watching Season Starts with Splash

By | Whale Watching

2020 Whale Watching Season Starts with Splash!

Whale Watching

It was a later start than usual, and with a few extra hurdles to overcome, but the first passengers have hit the water to kick off the 2020 whale watching season and what a great start it was! 

Weekend wrap up

With Coronavirus restrictions meaning only a special twenty guests could travel per tour, our lucky few were treated to near-private tours and an array of marine life, including the one we were holding our breath for, the magnificent humpback whale. 

Guests on board all tours were delighted to be chaperoned by pods of bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins riding the bow of the boat. Dolphins are a regular sight off the Gold Coast, but this weekend saw more action than usual in the water, with many bait balls in the region which are a feast for the dolphins. The Sunday afternoon tour even sighted a resting loggerhead turtle, sunning itself on the surface.

However, the star of the show – the one that we were all there for – did not disappoint. Humpback whales were seen on all five tours over the weekend. That’s what we call a 100% success rate, and we plan on keeping it that way. Our skippers and crew are the best in town, and if there’s a whale around, they’ll be sure to find it. 

A birthday surprise

It was also the birthday of Ebony, one of our crew members this weekend. When asked about how she felt working on her special day, she replied, “Picture this… it was late on Sunday afternoon. The sun was beginning to set over the Gold Coast skyline when suddenly we spotted a pod of whales. As we neared the group, we slowed down, and suddenly two humpbacks breached at exactly the same time into the sunset. It was the best birthday present ever!”

You see, nothing brings our staff more joy than sharing these incredible experiences with our customers. They are full of knowledge about humpback whales and show this through their fun, yet educational commentary. They are happy to answer any questions you may have about the whales, and will even show the art of capturing the perfect ‘whelfie’ (a selfie with a whale).

Here on the Gold Coast, we are lucky enough to have the most extended whale watching season in Australia, with whales migrating past our coastline from late May to early November each year. It was actually in April this year, that the first Humpback whales were spotted off the Gold Coast, eagerly making their way north. And now, with each day, more and more humpback whales are passing the shores of the Gold Coast with 35,000 whales expected to pass by this year. 

Whale watching in the age of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With strict regulations in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are currently taking reduced numbers of passengers in-line with government recommendations. We are committed to keeping our staff and customers safe. We are:

  • Taking extra precautions taken including cleaning touch surfaces hourly
  • Ensuring customers can maintain social distancing especially when standing at the rail 
  • Providing ample seating on the vessel across multiple decks including 4sqm per person
  • Adhering to our COVID Safe Plan which complies with the current approved Queensland Government and Tourism Industry guidelines

While this season is unlike any other season the industry has ever experienced, we remain excited. We’re to get out there with the whales over the next five months for some incredible wildlife encounters. If whale watching on the Gold Coast has been on your bucket list, now is a great time to take advantage of Early Bird Sales and to get the family safely out of the house and back in nature. Won’t you join us?

Call 5539 9299 or book online to reserve your spot. 

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When is the best time of year to go whale watching

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When is the best time of year to go whale watching?

Whale Watching

Gold Coasters love their whales and for good reason – we are blessed  to have the longest whale-watching season in Australia with a virtual parade of humpback whales passing just off our coastline.
Whale watching season typically runs from June to October and any month is a good time to get up-close and personal with these gentle giants. Everyone’s favourite aerial behaviour, when the whales launch their entire body out of the water in a spectacular breach, can be seen at any time. However, there are some other seasonal differences worth noting.

June

June is typically the beginning of the season and a parade of adult females with their calves from last season – now known as yearlings – and other young whales starting to make their way past the Gold Coast. The yearlings will still be nursing and are learning to navigate an ancient route known as the ‘Humpback Highway’ which spans from their icy feeding grounds in Antarctica to the warm breeding grounds of the Great Barrier Reef. These exuberant youngsters like to show off their full repertoire of surface behaviour and it’s one of the best times of the year to see enthusiastic surface displays such as head lunges and fin or tail slaps. June is also when southern minke whales are sighted in our waters.

July

July can be a special time to come whale watching – the migration is really kicking into gear and what was a trickle of whales in the early season now has become a strong flow of northbound whales. You may even be lucky enough to see a brand-new baby whale (called a newborn calf). You will need to look closely as they can be hard to see at first – they are quite small and almost look like a dolphin tucked in close next to Mum. Newborn calves are only 3 – 4 m long and are a light gray colour when they are very young. The Gold Coast is one of the only places on the migration that you can see these truly special little ones. You’ll also be able to meet and talk with researchers studying these newborns onboard.

August

August is an exceptionally busy time on the humpback highway and the waters off the Gold Coast team with whales as the peak of the migration arrives. Heavily pregnant females slowly swim north toward warm waters and non-pregnant females have also joined the mele. The action really heats up with the arrival of big males (called bulls) who are desperate to court females (called cows) and hopefully mate with them. You may see a large group of males chasing a single female at high-speed. They all want to become her boyfriend and they will splash and joist and push and shove each other in an event called a heat run. It’s exciting to watch these amazing courting rituals and to feel the immense power of so many whales at once. 

Whale Breach

September

During the month of September, the whales reverse direction and begin their way south on their very long trek back to Antarctica. During the southern migration we see the juveniles and newly pregnant females leading the pack south. Big males still keen on chasing the large females can now be seen chasing them south in a final bid at mating. We also get some special boat side visits during this time of the migration, as curious sub-adults may closely approach our boats. We call these encounters ‘muggings’ and you could find yourself eye-to-eye with these magnificent creatures. Time to forget your zoom lenses and receive a whale “blessing” as they exhale their warm breath close by. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Whale Close Up

October

Toward the end of the season in October we see the mums carefully and slowly guiding their calves of the season on their very first migration south. The Gold Coast Bay becomes a little nursery area as it fills with many mum and calf pairs stopping and resting in the bay. The mums are excellent caregivers and they utilise the bay for swim training and to give the calves some long drinks of milk. They are still practicing their swimming and we often witness them practicing their moves, tail slapping and pec slapping right next to mum. The breach is the trickiest behaviour for them to learn and you can’t help but smile and laugh as you see the calves flipping and flopping their bodies as they try to figure out how to jump! It’s adorable to watch. 

In November we wish them good luck and wave goodbye as they head south, and we hope those bubs will arrive looking strong and chubby in the first arrivals of June next year.

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