During the southern winter months, whales travel from the feeding grounds of Antarctica to the warmer waters of Australia. During the spring season, they migrate back to Antarctica. Every year, humpback whales and southern right whales can be seen migrating along the NSW coastline. They head north from the end of May, traveling up to their breeding grounds in warmer waters. Then, from around September to November, they return southwards.
Here are some examples of whale behaviour you may see on your Thunderjet Whale Watching Adventure.
Whales most spectacular activity is when they launch themselves up out of the water then twist and fall back down. This is called breaching, and it is believed they do this for several reasons … to communicate, dislodge parasites, get a higher view, drive off predators or just play. Southern Rights usually only breach about three quarters of their bodies out of the water, but others such as Humpbacks can actually jump clear.
Whales exhale air from the blowholes on top of their heads at great pressure, causing moisture in their breath to condense and create a cloud or “blow”. Southern Rights have a distinctive V-shaped bushy blow and usually blow every minute or so after being submerged.
The eyes are set low down in Southern Right whales because their natural predators and hazards come from below. However, they can lift their head and eyes above the surface when they want to have a look around. This is called spy hopping.
Tail flukes measure up to 5m across and weigh several tonnes. Whales will often lift them out of the water then back down hard with a loud crack and lots of spray. This is called tail lobbing, and is done for several reasons … to communicate, drive off predators or just for fun.
A less strenuous way for whales to communicate, is where they lay on their side at the surface and slap the water with their pectoral fin.
Whales frequently lay upside down, rolling on the surface with their pectoral fins stuck out for balance. There are various reasons for this … to simply rest or stretch; or, if a female, to avoid the demands of a hungry calf, or the advances of males during courtship.