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Whale Watch

Spectators have a whale of a time
Shane Fowles   |  June 11th, 2012

Whales on the great ocean road

The grand view of mighty humpback whales passing through the Bellarine coast has locals excited about the winter sightseeing season.
In the first confirmed humpback sighting of the migration period, Queenscliff ferry and tour boat passengers were treated to an up-close look at the massive creatures on Friday.
The humpbacks which are well known for throwing themselves out of the water and landing on their backs cruised through as they made their way from the cold Antarctic waters towards Queensland.
South Bay Eco Adventures snapped this photograph of the mother and calf just off Queenscliff.
"We are looking forward to seeing more of these whales visit the local water," director Mike Randall said.
"Last year saw humpback and orca whales pass through the Rip during the winter months."
To help interested onlookers follow whales spotted off the coast, whale-sighting flags will be hoisted at Lorne, Wye River, Onion Bay and Apollo Bay.


WHALE-WATCHING season is back in full stride
June 2011

whale at

Two adult whales and a calf were spotted 300m off Point Addis on Tuesday. There have also been regular sightings at Lorne and Apollo Bay.

Ms Watson said the sightings served as a reminder to boat and other water craft owners to acknowledge strict whale-watching guidelines.


Whales provide a Surf Coast attraction that's all at sea

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The waters along the coast from Apollo Bay to Lorne have become a nursery for a number of mothers with their calves - cosy in comparison to their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions.

Sightings have become more frequent over the last few years.

Whales start to put on a show off the Surf Coast in late autumn and can be seen until spring, adding yet another attraction to this beautiful part of Australia's coastline.

To make it easier to pinpoint where whales are most likely to be seen, whale flags have been set up at the visitor information centres in Lorne and Apollo Bay and in the townships of Wye River and Onion Bay.

Drivers are asked to take care to pull over in one of the many lookouts or turn-outs to admire these natural wonders of the Southern Ocean in safety.

There are two types of the world's largest mammal that frequent these waters. Humpbacks, on their way to warmer waters off the Queensland coast, are distinctive in that they breach (break out of) the water.

Scientists believe this could be a form of communication, or perhaps they just want to put on a show for the whale watching enthusiasts on land.

The Humpback has a more uniform dark grey body and white underbelly. It also has a dorsal fin and is slimmer than a Southern Right Whale.

The Southern Right Whale is the second largest whale after the famous Blue Whales, which pass through in summer, but usually out to sea. The Southern Right Whale is a baleen whale.

Rather than having teeth, it has baleen plates which filter food from the water.

The Southern Right Whale is distinguished by the callosities (calluses) on its head. It has a broad back without a dorsal fin and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, and sometimes has white patches on the belly.

But you don't have to keep the thrill of the migratory whale sightings to yourself. The regional tourism website is now recording cetacean spottings in the region, including date, time and location, on a web blog.

A spate of whale sightings on consecutive days towards the end of August was excitedly reported on the web blog, including sightings at Marengo, Apollo Bay, Smythes Creek and Skenes Creek.

Sunday 22 August was a particularly auspicious day with sightings of about six whales putting on a fabulous show near Wild Dog Beach, Apollo Bay. A mother and calf (believed to be Southern Rights) were also spotted quite close to shore off Apollo Bay main beach.

Another whale drifts along our coast July 31st, 2010

Whale at LorneWHALES continue to visit our coast, with more sightings of the majestic mammals this week.

Anglesea photographer Judy Scanlon snapped this whale in calm waters off Lorne yesterday afternoon.

Recent weeks have seen dozens of sightings of humpback, southern right and killer whales beyond the surf breaks of local beaches, as the creatures make their annual trek from the Antarctic to warmer northern waters.

Common sighting spots this season include near Cape Otway lighthouse, Anglesea beach and Torquay's Point Danger.
Carl Dickens

Queenscliff ferry passengers watch whales in Port Phillip Bay July 12th, 2010

whales at QueenscliffPASSENGERS cruising Bass Strait got more than they bargained for yesterday.
Two humpback whales, estimated to be 10m in length, thrilled dozens aboard the Queenscliff and Sorrento ferries as they frolicked for more than 15 minutes about 10am.
Sorrento Ferry skipper Keith Rawlinson anchored the vessel and allowed more than 130 passengers to view the pair spurting and tail slapping. "It was quite exciting," Mr Rawlinson said. "They were continuously coming up to the surface and a couple of times their tails came out. It was fantastic."

The pair also delighted 60 passengers on the Queenscliff ferry. "They were about 150m to 200m away and they were cruising up with the tide," Queenscliff ferry skipper Gus Rogers said.

The sighting comes less than a week after passengers watched three southern right whales frolic in the waters off the coast of Queenscliff. Killer whales have also been sighted along the surf coast.
Alex Oates

Juc surfer Len Gibson saw two killer whales at Pt Impossible on Sunday morning. July 6th, 2010

Gibson said he was on his paddle board when he saw at least two of the massive animals about 250 metres off the coast. "There were a few of us out there," he said. "I was on the paddle board so had a good view and one of the board surfers said 'Did you see that?'. "One of the dorsal fins was out of the water about 1.5 metres so it was pretty big."Then they did that Orca move bringing their backs out of the water like dolphins and we knew what it was."

He could clearly see the distinguishing black and white of the killer whale. Meanwhile the echo has been told of a sighting of humpback whales about a kilometre off Pt Danger at Torquay. The sightings also coincide with a female southern right whale and her young calf off Ocean Grove last month.

Researchers have discovered that about a dozen southern right whales return to Victoria's southwest coast each year between May and June to give birth, raise their young and commence the breeding cycle again.

From November to April, the ocean is is one of a handful of sites globally where blue whales can be seen surface-feeding.

The whales are often sighted within 10km of land.

A SOUTHERN right whale and her calf are sheltering off Ocean Grove. June 24th, 2010

whales at Ocean GroveThe pair was yesterday spotted swimming in shallow water just outside the wave line by keen whale watchers at the local surf club. Ocean Grove resident John O'Reilly said he was among a small crowd who spent the early morning watching the pair play in the calm water. "This was the first time I've seen whales in Victoria and it was quite a pleasant surprise this morning," he said. "They didn't move very far ... about 100m in an hour."

Department of Sustainability and Environment senior biodiversity officer Mandy Watson said the mother and calf were not in distress. "Southern right whales can come very close to shore and can often be seen rolling and waving their pectoral fins in the air," she said. "When calves are newborn the mothers swim slowly and can stay in the one location for long periods of time."

With school holidays approaching, and many beach visitors wanting to experience whale watching, Ms Watson warned sightseers to stay clear of the whales. "Research has shown that whales react to the presence of boats and mothers will move between their calves and boats or move calves away from boats," Ms Watson said "Regulations are in place to ensure people don't get too close to whales, dolphins and other marine mammals such as seals, whether alive or dead, and this is particularly important now that whales are appearing along the coast."

Kerri-Ann Hobbs

The whales are back today Sunday 16/8/09
A pod of about four whales were sighted close to shore in the bay at about 11.30 this morning.
I was having breakfast at La Bimbas and they appeared literally out of the blue :)
My suspicion is they will be there for the next week or so...

One of the creatures splashes back into the sea. Photo: ZAZWhale wonder at Winkipop
Alex Oates
July 31st, 2009

Anglesea surfer Kaine Hazle triumphantly threw his hands in the air as the fins of a southern right whale surfaced within arm's reach at Winkipop yesterday morning.
"It was incredible the most amazing experience," Mr Hazle said from the sand after paddling within 2m of two giant whales.
"It was more a test of courage, just because they're so big, amazing and peaceful."

Melbourne photographer Greg Wayn spotted this Whale on the surf coast on Sunday the 17th of August 2008.
Whale at Mogs Creek

Whale of a time at Moggs Creek

THE Surf Coast had a couple of extra-large visitors at the weekend when whales came to the beach for a swim.
At least two southern right species were noticed at several spots close to the shore from Moggs Creek to Point Roadknight.
Mrs Taylor said she saw just one whale on Saturday but others reported seeing at least two.
"Usually you can see their tails flopping and see their spouts but this one looked a little distressed and a friend actually said to me maybe it's calving," she said.
On Sunday, the Lorne Visitor Information Centre had reports of two whales near George River and at Lorne's beach, fairly close to shore. Other reports came from Teddy's Lookout at Lorne. By Monday, sightings were made near Point Roadknight, near Anglesea. Mrs Taylor said it was not that common to see the whales, noticing them just 12 times in 35 years. "We also had a shop at Anglesea for about 10 years during that time and we didn't often see them,"she said.
She said when the big mammals came to town they always excited the locals and visitors.

But Lorne Visitor Information Centre assistant co-ordinator Leon Walker said the whales, namely southern rights and humpbacks, were becoming more common. "Last year we had some come pretty close, about 50 metres off shore and we had some between Lorne and Apollo Bay about three weeks ago, and at the same time near Bells," Mr Walker said.
"The ones on Sunday were the closest to the shore we've had for a while." He said last weekend's sightings at different spots on the Surf Coast were most likely the same whales.
Mr Walker said Warrnambool, which calls itself "Victoria's southern right whale nursery" was a more common destination for the species but they often made the journey towards the Surf Coast.
Yesterday the Warrnambool Visitor Information Centre website reported sightings of one mother and her calf in the area.

Rebecca Tucker

August 21st, 2008

blue line
August 07

Whales were spotted on the Surf Coast again at the weekend.

Did you see them?

WHALES romanced the Surf Coast again at the weekend.
But in their usual style, they passed through quickly, seemingly reluctant to hang around.
Sightings were reported at Cape Otway and Apollo Bay on Saturday, and Lorne yesterday.
The pair pulled in near the cape's lighthouse about 9am, performing to cliff-top audiences for about 30 minutes.

But the best view was had by Cape Otway Lighthouse guide Pat Howell, who was on watch when the whales appeared. Mr Howell said the pair came from a westerly direction and veered off around the Otway reef towards the east. Another two whales were reported to be at Apollo Bay later in the day, Mr Howell said.
Geelong Advertiser
20Aug 07

blue line

Two southern right whales played just off shore at Southside, near Bells Beach, yesterday.

SURFERS were treated to a spectacular display from two southern right whales at Southside yesterday.

They frolicked and leapt through the air just metres from surfers trying to score a ride at the popular break near Bells Beach.

It is also understood one surfer got too close to a whale and was forced to dive under the water to dodge the whale's fluke as it was slapped down in the ocean.

The leg rope of the surfer's board became entangled around the whale's tail but, luckily for the surfer, the whale dived into the ocean, releasing the leg rope and setting the surfer free.

The whales have also been sighted in Lorne, Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven and Anglesea on Monday.

Department of Sustainability and Environment senior flora and fauna management officer Mandy Watson said it was the first sighting of whales on the Surf Coast this year.

The timing of the whales' visit coincided with the first sighting of a southern right whale at Logan's Beach in Warrnambool.

``It's not unusual to have sightings on the Surf Coast. The whales tend to cruise back and forth but it's been a late migration this year,'' she said.

``They might possibly come to Warrnambool or just travel up and down the coast until it's time to migrate south.

``But it's great to have another confirmed sighting. It's really good to get these reports because there has been so few of them around this year.''

Department of Sustainability and Environment senior flora and fauna management officer Mandy Watson said it was the first sighting of whales on the Surf Coast this year.

The timing of the whales' visit coincided with the first sighting of a southern right whale at Logan's Beach in Warrnambool.

``It's not unusual to have sightings on the Surf Coast. The whales tend to cruise back and forth but it's been a late migration this year,'' she said.

``They might possibly come to Warrnambool or just travel up and down the coast until it's time to migrate south.

``But it's great to have another confirmed sighting. It's really good to get these reports because there has been so few of them around this year.''



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