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WHALE WATCHING ON NORFOLK ISLAND ... by Betty Matthews

Friday, July 22, 2016
It is migration time of year for the Southern Ocean whales.  This is the time of year the whales travel up to the tropical breeding grounds for the winter.  As they travel through the Norfolk Island waters, their journey also takes them along the migratory corridors along Australian, New Zealand and New Caledonia coast lines.  I have been following social media and news items, reporting the New Zealand and Australian whale sightings.

During past weeks I have been looking out to sea hoping to catch sight of a whale or their splash or spray.  On calm days it would be so easy to see them out at sea, if they happen to breach and dive.  On Monday afternoon the Kingston water front was filled with white caps with the wind blustering across the waves, but I happened to spot a large splash of white out by Phillip Island.  I watched closely and then saw tell – tell sign of whale spray up into the air.  It was exciting to see my first whale on their winter migration.  The whale was a very long way out, maybe 5km, but appeared to be travelling at a reasonable speed towards the North, up towards Headstone.

The whales are known to travel in pods and I wonder how many whales were in my sighting on Monday 18th July 2016.  The winter migration seems to be a little late this year.  I have learnt that the whales travel north at a steady speed, but on their return trip to the Antarctica in the spring they travel slower because they have young calves on their first journey to the southern waters.

The most common whale viewed from Norfolk Island is the “Humpback” whales.  But other whales are also viewed such as “Minke” whales.

It is always exciting to see the whales from land, but if you get the opportunity, another way to sight the migrating whales, is from the local fishing boats or the Norfolk Island charter boats, which regularly spend time fishing the Norfolk Island coastal areas.

I have heard that there have been other whale sightings this week as well as my Monday afternoon whale.  If you do see any whales take note of WHAT, WHERE & WHEN.  Record the time and where the whales are sighted and the direction they are travelling.  Please contact either Borry Evans on 22082 or 50274 or else call Margaret Christian on 50901 or 22800.  These records of the whale sightings can be recorded for the Norfolk Island Fauna and Flora Society and for annual whale surveys.

It is always exciting to see the whales when they are passing Norfolk Island and I always hope to capture them on my camera.  I have been searching my computer for Norfolk Island whale photos and I like the computer information systems, “properties” which record the time and date the pictures were taken.

Here are a couple of photos which show what to look for when whale watching and if you are lucky, you will see them up close like the photos I took on the Sunshine Coast last year when I had an outing with Whale One Watching Cruise, Mooloolaba.

Happy Whale Watching everyone 





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