Whales and Phillip Island
I remember the first time I sighted a pygmy whale in the Bass Strait. It was hard to control my excitement at seeing such a spectacular sight, and I know that i am not alone when it comes to the excitement of seeing a whale. I have heard of other people jumping, screaming and gesticulating when they spot their first whale. It truly is an incredible sight, one that you will not forget as long as you live.
If you come on a holiday (or weekend) to Phillip Island, whale watching should be part of your itinerary. Phillip Island, is along the migration route of whales and during the migration season, it is quite common to spot whales lazily swimming through the waters.
Pygmy Blue Whale
Don’t let the name put you off. At 24.4 metres, pygmy blue whales are anything but pygmies. Of course, they are smaller in size compared to other blue whales. It is quite common to spot pygmy blue whales between December and May.
About 100 such whales come to the Bass Strait to feed on schools of krill and when you make an effort to find out more about these so-called pygmies, you will realise they have giant appetites!
Southern Right Whale
It is a fascinating sight to watch Southern Right whales migrate to the Great Australian Bight. This is perhaps the best time to spot these whales making their way slowly, but surely. This magnificent sight will be etched in your mind forever.
Right from May, you will be able to spot Southern Right whales coming close to the shore, as these waters are used for calving as well as raising the young calves. Southern Right whales come from the cold waters of the Antarctica. It is estimated that about 1,500 of these whales migrate via the Bass Strait.
Orca or Killer Whale
I love fur seals, but they also are a reason to bring orcas close to Phillip Island. Killer whales feed on Australian fur seals, squids, dolphins and young Humpback whales that migrate through the Strait. In fact, if you are lucky, you may be able to catch the sight of a pod of orcas trying to prey on Australian fur seals living on Seal Rocks. Another place to catch orcas trying to hunt down dolphins is Cape Schanck.
Every winter, Humpback whales migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warmer waters off the coast of Queensland to breed and give birth to calves. In this endeavour, these whales pass through the Bass Strait. So, come winter, you may be able to get a glimpse of these amazing creatures. And, if you are really, really lucky, you will be able to listen to the vocalization of a male humpback whale. It can be mesmerising. Males vocalize to woo females and this happens during the migration process.
If you are anything like me – an ardent nature and animal lover – you will stay put on Phillip Island till you spot these amazing cetaceans and listen to them sing and rear their young ones. It is one experience I will never forget and this is what keeps bringing me back to Phillip Island during winters. Summers, I just need an excuse to be on the island!
By Brett Watson