The tour started like any other, we had soon spotted humpback blows once leaving the marina and began following a lone adult. It wasn’t long before the individual headed toward the lighthouse and out through a small channel towards the vast expansive depths of the Southern Ocean. We decided to head toward the Islands to find refuge from the white-capped waters. As we approached St Alaroun Island we encountered a VERY large blow, it seemed as though the whales had the same idea as the blows were so close to the inside of the island. The instantaneous thoughts of our crews trained eye….BLUE WHALES!
It only took one or two surfaces of the animals to soon discern the larger, more falcate dorsal fins, surely not, it couldn’t be, we’d have to be dreaming, they’d never been seen here before….FIN WHALES!!!!!!!!! Firstly, WOW we were over the moon, to say the least!!! Is this just a first of many more sightings to come OR was this a VERY lucky one-off experience?!?! Either way, we’re happy!!!!
The fin whale is the second-largest whale species on the planet reaching a whopping 27m, spanning a whole minivan longer than our vessel!!!! Fin whales are VERY rarely and sporadically sighted off the WA coastline and are often far offshore well out of eyes reach and we had not one but TWO fin whales on the INSIDE of the Islands of Flinders Bay!
The pair were headed west on our first glance, but as we approached they decided to do a complete 180 right in front of our bow!!! By now we could see a significant size difference of the pair, perhaps even a mother and calf!!!! The two “greyhounds of the ocean” were just beneath the surface, the glow of their entire bodies expanded far beyond our bow. The fin whales stayed submerged, only JUST beneath the surface, every second feeling like minutes as we waited! The anticipation rose and so did the astonished glances between crew and passengers! We all went silent…
Once the whales’ finally surfaced we all couldn’t help but cheer!!!! The whales blow protruded high into the sky, first, exposing their slender head, followed by their sleek, long bodies and finally their tall discerning dorsal fin, and only then could we finally distinguish their sheer size!
Being on the water every day is a reward in itself but still, after 25 years of operating, Naturaliste Charters continues to witness rare and exciting encounters at all of our operating sites, just like today! Augusta is a unique, nutrient-rich ecosystem that at this time of year is bursting with life. From hundreds of thousands of tiny pilchards that form giant bait balls to the oceans great baleen giants and everything in between. The big question for us is, are the whale species that we encounter in Flinders Bay not only using this area as a refuge and resting ground from their long northern journey from Antarctica? With krill populations decreasing over the past 20 years by a whopping 40% are the whales utilising the bay as a feeding area? With continued observations, monitoring, and rare encounters like today, we hope to uncover these questions and expose what is really happening just below the surface!