While most would find the sea too cold for swimming during the winter, the local water temperature can be a relief for the hundreds of whales travelling north through the waters past Sydney. Whale watching is becoming an extremely popular pastime.
From late May to mid July, pods of Humpbacks, some Southern Right Whales and a scattering of Minke, False Killer and Pygmy whales head north to breed. From September to November, with calves in tow, they then head south again to the Antarctic.
As most of the whales travel within 3 km of the coastline they can often be spotted from Sydney headlands or beaches. Some beaches, like Narrabeen even have excellent viewing platforms. The best vantage points include Barrenjoey Headland, Long Reef, South Head and North Head. Remember to take some binoculars!
Humpbacks will be the most commonly seen. They can be distinguished by their large pectoral fins that are about one third of their body length. They are almost all-white underneath. Humpbacks were named from the way they hump their backs when they dive then launch themselves out of the water in a spectacular action known as breeching.
Southern Right Whales are not as common as Humpbacks as they do not travel as far north. Southern Right Whales are characterised by their lack of a dorsal fin and the presence of callosities (hard growths) on their head, chin and near the blowholes. As they have two blowholes close to each other, they give off a very distinctive V-shaped blow.
Whales are protected animals, so there are strict regulations if you decide to head out to sea to meet them. For more information - whale watching regulations.
Whale watching sounds like a fun thing to do! I have never seen a live whale. I know this article was written in 09 but I suppose since its winter now may be whales are still swimming close to the coastlines. This is definitely something worth watching for people interested in animal life and nature. I mean who doesnt love to watch discovery channel? If you can see something this spectacular in real life then even better!
By Badhon M - senior reviewer Wednesday, 6th of July @ 07:34 am