Naturaliste Charters have operated for many decades here in the south-west and over this time have understood the variability for whales throughout the day. You can never predict a whale’s behaviour or “when they will jump” but we do know what time the sun goes down!
By combining our premium whale watching tours with a magnificent time of day you can end up with an unforgettable spectacle!
Below is a daily whale blog excerpt from 2020 in October and further on is a description of whale watching at sunset, why you should go this year and where the best locations are!
The daily blog for October, 2020:
To kick off the second week of school holidays here in Western Australia we have we blessed with fantastic tours! It has been great to see a lot of West Australians travelling to the south west to continue exploring this beautiful state we live in! As a result we have been able to show the locals what is right in their backyard.
Three tours for the day!
With three tours yesterday, morning afternoon and sunset the whales held up all day! The morning tour was greeted with a MEGAPOD of humpbacks moving through the bay. Multiple pods of 5 or so ‘active’ whales and countless breaching on the horizon! This meant that no matter which direction you looked you could see a whale. Fins, flippers and barnacles were being thrown around and lots of white water! These beasts effortlessly sprung themselves out of the water over and over again. Spring was well and truly in the air!
Breaching, lunging and grunting provides for a whale spectacular!
As we had whales breaching in all directions it looked as though they were communicating, and organising themselves to get ready for the final leg of their migration. These whales were long gone by the afternoon but it wasn’t long before we found a new pod of Humpbacks. They were erratic and unpredictable showing typical behaviour of a competition pod! However, the grunting and head lunging coming from these massive whales was still a spectacle to see.
Pec-slapping while the sun goes down!
As the sun moved to the west the wind had dropped and there was a shift with the whales too. The competition pod had moved off but a very friendly whale and its buddy were still lagging behind in the bay. This humpback rolled around flopping its giant pectoral flippers onto the surface of the water. Its buddy was very quiet for most of the encounter however it still had to get its time in the spotlight, breaching twice next to the boat! Passengers jaws dropped as this almost 40 ton whale propelled itself skyward! The friendly whale soon picked up its pec slapping again, maybe it had an itch to scratch… Either way it was mesmerising to watch!
Morning, afternoon or sunset? Which tour is best?!
Passengers quite often ask which tour is best. Between the three times available, morning, afternoon or sunset, each has its own amazing features! A common question that also comes up is “are the whales more active early in the morning or do they need a few hours to wake up?” The answer to this one is:
We do not see a pattern in the whales behaviour according to time of day. The whales have “more moods than a teenage girl” and they operate on their own time schedule.
Meaning that the time you choose to come aboard should be totally dependent on YOUR schedule! If you need a few hours to wake up, come in the afternoon, however if you like to jam pack your day it’s best to come early so you have the entire afternoon to explore the Southwest Region.
However, one tour that stands out from the others is our sunset whale watching. Departing straight off the beach as with our day tours, you can be immersed in the calm waters of Geographe bay as the sun tilts further and further towards the west.
Sunset whale watching can mean something different to everyone!
You might be looking for a romantic way to spend 2 hours with your partner, a fun filled pre-evening with mates or just something to get the kids finally talking to you during the school holidays. (Adrenalin filled experiences tend to have a way of getting your children to open up a bit! However we cant guarantee this as they are …well… kids!)
There is a certain rhythm that appears when the sun is setting! Animals are beginning to settle in for the night, maybe catching the last few insect snacks! The bugs are going wild, calling for a potential mate. While the nocturnal animals wake up and start to forage! While this is all so busy the sea and sky tends to go quiet. The winds drop and the sea calms off.
As we move further and further from the bustling terrestrial animals there is complete quietness. Floating out onto what begins to look like a surface made from black silk, you can breathe in the fresh salty air and breathe out the entire day! This is when the whales sound the loudest.
Their exhales at the surface carry across the water without any wind to knock the volume out. 5,000 litres of exhale to be exact. If the whales are feelin’ it they’ll socialise on the surface! Pectoral flippers slapping down on the silk, spy hops from juveniles and maybe even a breach! As the clouds start to change to pastel pinks and oranges it is time to head back across the bay to the moorings where rays and fish have settled into areas of seagrass and the seabirds are back on dry land.
Sunset Whale Watching:
Sounds pretty good right?! Whale watching is a beautifully inspiring and entertaining activity and when you add sunset to that mix, it becomes an exquisite way to spend your afternoons.
There are a variety of spots you can go whale watching at sunset around the south west of Western Australia. This type of tour is dependent on passenger numbers and is usually only offered in select times like summer or school holidays.
Starting up at the top of the south west in Geographe Bay is Dunsborough and Busselton. As you move further down the coast towards the south, there is Augusta, a sleepy coastal town and then much further south is the winter whale wonderland of Albany.
Dunsborough and Busselton:
Whales migrate through this area from September to November. They are heading back south on the second half of their annual migration. These whales have ventured a long way north to places such as Broome and Camden Sound. Here, the pregnant females will give birth. They do not rest for too long as they begin to move back south, stopping at calm bays for energy replenishment and nourishment for the calves. One such area is Geographe Bay. Both Busselton and Dunsborough run adjacent to this bay and are two of the most popular whale watching sites.
Throughout spring when the whales come, the weather here is unrivalled. Calm seas and low wind, everything is beginning to warm back up after the winter. The days are getting longer which means we can host three tours in the day. Morning, afternoon and sunset.
Sunset tours as described above are magical and not to be missed here in Dunsborough or Busselton with Naturaliste Charters or Legend Charters.
Before the whales migrate south from Broome they must first go north! During the months of May to August, whales can be observed frolicking in the shallow waters of Flinders Bay. Since it is peak winter during these times here in the southwest, an afternoon tour can very easily turn into a sunset! The days are very short and our passion for the whales runs long which means we can easily spend a couple hours out on the water watching the whales as the sun moves west! During winter the south is typically on a much greater angle towards the north as it tracks through the sky. This makes for a very interesting photo. As the whale exhales the light can catch the water droplets behind sparking up the sky like an orange firework.
The last location to go whale watching at sunset is Albany! As with Augusta the whale watching season is when the whales are in the first half of their migration, May – August. Here they are coming into King George Sound to relax or the opposite, look for a mate! This is during winter when the days are shorter and you may be able to catch a lucky sunset on the afternoon tour. Tours also operate seasonally so it is best to contact our office for more information regarding Albany sunset whale watching!