It's that time again when our majestic visitors from the Antarctic come to bask off our coast in warm (well for them anyway) waters. If you're lucky you might see a new born calf feeding from her mother. Breeding season off our coast is May to August. They'll head back down south with their off-spring from September.
Whaling was South Australia's first industry. Escaped convicts from the East were already in operation at Kangaroo Island before the colony was founded in 1836. The colony's first exports were whaling products.
As populations of whales dwindled and other industries took its place, the people of South Australia began to look at whales in a different light. These noble creatures come to the same inlets to have their babies each year and they show emotions, curiosity and playfulness. Watching them interact with each other and with us, remind us of ourselves.
The whales that inhabitant our waters this time of year are humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).
The humpback whale is one of the largest species ranging from 12–16 metres long and weighing around 36,000 kilos. The humpback has an unusually long pectoral fins and a knobby head.
The humpback is an acrobatic and a show off; breaching and slapping the water. Males produce a complex song, which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated for hours at a time. The soothing sound has been used in meditational CDs.
The most magical way to sight I whale, I think, is by accident and in the winter there's a good chance that you could spot one almost anywhere n the Southern Sea. The SA Whale Centre offers a webpage of the latest sighting. Click here to see where people have reported seeing them in the last few days.
The five best places to watch whales in South Australia are:
1) Ceduna- there was a calf born there in the last few weeks.
The Yalata people (the local indigenous) have set up a whale watching venture, with a viewying deck and facilities for whale watchers. It's remote and you'll need to purchase permits to enter their lands but what an experience!
3) Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Kangaroo Island
You can stay overnight here, in luxury or basic accommodation and there are lots of vantage points. The Whales favour protected waters close to the cliffs giving visitors a fantastic opportunity see them.
4) Cape Jervis, Fleurieu Peninsula,
Cape Jervis is an easy drive from Adelaide and whales have been reported off the coast of this sleepy village recently.
Supporting whale tourism is protecting whales too. If we can prove that a live whale is worth more economically (as well as all the other reasons), we have a stronger chance of stopping the whaling boats from Japan killing them when they return south.