Here at Naturaliste Charters, we’ve been absolutely LOVING being back on the ocean! The 20 people restrictions have been a perfect way to ease back into the swing of things! With friendly, local customers getting to experience what the southwest region has on offer and might I add it’s been copious whales at that, the tours have been hard to fault!
As it’s so early in the season we’ve been gobsmacked by the number of whales in Flinders Bay! We’ve even been lucky to have recreational boaters that were on their way back into the marina yell across the water to inform us of where (and how close) the whales are just over the other side of the breakwater! It seems as though both the whales and the recreational fisherman (and woman) have been utilising the calm waters post-storm!
Yesterday morning we had quite a unique encounter, in fact, a first for our crew (whom, might I add, have had YEARS of experience observing whales in the region)! So, with that said, it isn’t too often that we uncover FIRSTS on our tours! At first, all we could see was a nose, bobbing up and down, regularly surfacing in the distance (Often the behaviour of a curious southern right whale). As we edged closer we soon uncovered that it was actually a juvenile humpback and a very cheeky one at that!
Every time the seemingly bored youngster surfaced, it lifted pieces of seaweed out with it, almost resembling a moustache! This not only started to turn heads, but it also set off an endless stream of wholesome belly chuckles! Humpbacks have bumps known as “tubercles” on their dorsal head region, each has one individual hair and is thought to be used for sensory purposes. Once the whale had finished with the seaweed on his nose he rolled upside down and proceeded to lift his belly above the surface, using his long pec fins to flick it back onto the pleats of his throat! From our observations, it seemed as though the sensation of the seaweed was tickling him!
As if this wasn’t entertaining enough! The humpback flipped back upright and made a beeline straight toward a large assemblage of weed back toward the harbour. The whale submerged for minutes before rising RIGHT where you’d suspect! The juvenile arched his back and LAUNCHED his entire peduncle out of the water, sending the majority of the seaweed flying through the air! He repeated this manoeuvre a handful more times before the weed was dispersed for metres, all the way to our vessel! To top off this incredibly bizarre encounter the little guy began to blow bubbles just beneath the surface, just like a motorboat! It’s easy to say, there were endless laughs for our morning tour!
By the afternoon the large assortment of whales had begun to group up throughout the bay. We hadn’t even concluded the pre-departure presentation when we were informed of BREACHING whales just beyond the harbour walls! From the first minute through to the very last moment of the 2-hour afternoon tour we were SPOILT for choice! From continuous head lunging, tail-slaps and breaches by some energetic juveniles to VERY shallow encounters of humpbacks frolicking in 6m of water! Check out the images we captured! It almost looked as though the whale was doing a headstand on the bottom as he perfectly hovered his tail in the air only 100m from the shore!
To top off a brilliant day in Flinders Bay we had a pod of resident bottlenose dolphins winding up a pair of boisterous humpbacks! At times, we couldn’t quite tell who was chasing who! The images of this truly so speak 1000 words 😀