The Humpback Whale Recovery Program

Whales weathered continuous hunting for many centuries, which only ended in the 1970s, when the ‘Save the Whale’ campaign began. Whales were hunted throughout the world, especially by the Japanese and the Humpback Whale was almost on the verge of extinction. A member of the Baleen whale family, the Humpback adult can grow to up to 52ft and these amazing creatures use the polar regions of the planet, with annual migrations.

NSW Whale Watching

There is a huge interest in whale watching in Sydney, and from May to November, the whales migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctic to the tropical waters off the west Australian coastline and the return leg is when the mothers guide their new calves, hugging the shore. Estimated numbers are 100,000+ worldwide, with tens of thousands that use the NSW route and when you book a berth on a whale watching boat, you can simply search online and book your spot there and then.

Shipping Lanes

Things have really improved since the 1980s, with shipping lanes that avoid known whale migration routes and that has led to fewer casualties from the huge propellers that the tankers use. A lot of resources in marine biology have been used to protect all whale species, not just the Humpback and if you would like to see some of the Humpback whales on their annual migration, in NSW, the whale watching season starts in May and runs through to November. Many people say that July and August are the best months to book a spot on a whale watching boat.

Surface Behaviour

The Humpback Whale exhibits a wide range of surface behaviours, which include:

  • Tail slap – It is not known why whales do this; it might be to remove parasites.
  • Pec fin slap – This is common behaviour that is not fully understood.
  • Spy hop – This is where the whale’s head pops up vertically and we think it is to offer a look at the surrounding area.
  • Peduncle throw – When the whale throws the back half of the body into the air.
  • Breaching – When the whale powers up from below and launches itself out of the water.

Booking a Whale Watching Experience

The best way to make contact with a whale watching tour operator is to search with Google and there is a lot of information on their website that can help you prepare for a truly unique experience watching Humpback Whales on their annual migration.