Whale Facts

Loving Whales

What is it that lures us to become mesmerised by these amazing mammals?

Research has shown that whales not only share our kind of intelligence, they also feel the emotions that we feel. They feel empathy and love, they enjoy our applause and presence as much as we appreciate their presence and slap of the tail.

It has been discovered that whales such as the humpback, fin, killer, sperm and grey whales have a particular cell that only humans and apes were known to have.

The cell, known as the spindle neurone, is a specialised brain cell that allows us to process emotions and helps us interact socially. It is the reason why we feel empathy and love, it is the reason we get butterflies when we are nervous and why we are protective of our children.

This special cell is the reason as to why whales have very complex social structures, like humans. For instance, the social structure of killer whales is often considered to resemble a culture. When killer whales are not hunting for food they are extremely social and are often found in pods, sometimes up to four generations, and if the pod were to feel threatened, they would fiercely protect their own/young.

… Remember to vocalise your appreciation of these magnificent creatures on our Whale Watching tour, not for us but for the whales, they really do LOVE hearing from you. They may even slap their tail to show their appreciation.

 

 

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When’s The Best Time To See Whales?

whales blog1This is the most common question we get asked from curious guests wanting to come out whale watching with us:

“When’s the best time to see whales?”

With the humpback whales being wild animals, it’s hard for us to predict this as we see something different on every cruise.  But the whales do keep swimming through the ocean on their whale migration no matter what time of day it is.  They actually don’t sleep like us humans do, as they need to be conscious to come to the surface to take a breath for air.  They do however, still need to sleep, so when they sleep they only shut down half of their brain which means one side of their brain is in a semi-conscious state so they can still be aware of dangers.

When they sleep in this semi-conscious state, they will most commonly float at the surface of the water which is known as “logging”.  This is because they will resemble a log floating on top of the water, drifting in any direction.  So even if the whales are sleeping, we will still be able to see them.

We are also still running three cruises a day for the convenience of our guests so it’s up to you which time would best suit your schedule.  These departure times again are:

  • - 7:30am
  • - 11:00am
  • - 2:30pm

 

Because we are also still seeing so many whales around, we have decided to extend our whale watching cruises through till the 10th of November now.  So whether you are a first time whale watcher, or would like to come out again with us, we look forward to seeing you to share another awesome whale watching experience.

We are having an extremely active end of Whale Watching season….

Come aboard our boat and let the whales entertain you!! There are still plenty of whales in our oceans of the Gold Coast. The activity of the whales this end of season has been phenomenal. We have been blown away with the amount of whale pods we still have migrating through the Gold Coast on their way to Antarctica.

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Lately every tour we have been seeing Mother Humpbacks with their Calves and even the Mothers teaching their babies how to breach..This has been a fascinating calf development to watch. 

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Luckily the Gold Coast has a longer whale watching season, than most coastlines because of our geographical location on the East Coast. The Gold Coast has whales passing through all season. It is one of the rare points on the East Coast of Australia where, from August, whale traffic heads in both directions on the Coast.

We definitely are blessed to have these incredible mammals passing through and we are grateful to call Gold Coast one of the best places to experience the humpback whales migration. 

Our Whale Watching season will be ending towards the 10th November. Last year we still had a lot of whale activity around this time and after the growth and success of the whale season this year, we expect the whales to be still migrating down south well into mid November.  

Fun Fact for today….  It will usually take a humpback whale three to fours days to travel 700 kms. 

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Triple Humpback Whale Breaches…

WOW!!! What a Incredible day today!

On our afternoon cruise , our lucky guests experienced humpback whales perform “Triple Breaching” !!! This is when three whales, are jumping out of the water , at the same time !!

To experience this, it is an absolutely mind blowing mammal encounter which inspires everybody…

It was rough out at sea today but that didn’t stop the whales from their play! We also had lots of double breaching on our cruises, which was extremely lucky! As it is rare to see triple and double breaches on the same day. This explains just how active the whales are at the moment. It was also very lovely to see all the mothers with their calves being highly active.

This weekend we are expecting beautiful weather conditions and with all the hundreds of whales out there, everybody needs to take the opportunity to experience these once in a lifetime whale encounters, while we are blessed to have these fascinating whales migrating along the coast.

 

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Extremely Active Humpback Whales !!

On all three tours today we experienced extremely active humpback whales!! We had whales breaching all over the place, which was an absolutely fascinating sight to see! We saw mother and calves on all the three trips today, they were being very inquisitive by coming up close to the boat, and the calf would come a few metres away and turn its belly upside down, then the mother would quickly swim by to whisk her baby away. There has also been a lot of male pods around single female humpback whales.

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From our research groups on the boat they mentioned the whales would know the sound of our boat and they can see us from underwater. We find the humpbacks are so friendly, it feels like they know “what we are all about”. The whales are curious, that is why we always find the whales will put on a little bit of a show for us and they are always swimming up close to our boat .

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When the calves are born they are 4 metres in length and already weigh two tonnes, the humpbacks maximum adult length is 16 metres and maximum adult weight is 50 tonnes! These facts just blow your mind away! The humpbacks blow holes are how we find the whales, they are a single cloud-shaped blow expelled when surfacing to breathe.

 

Still Whales Everywhere

Spy HoppingOur whale watching cruises have still been having awesome intimate encounters with the whales as they make their way home back to Antarctica with calves in tow.  The calves have usually been the most active, but we saw mum do a energetic breach so close to our boat that the waves from the breach rocked us more than usual.

We also had a pod of three whales yesterday who were so curious by our presence that they couldn’t seem to get close enough and would gently nudge the boat.  You can feel such an amazing connection when they love to come this close to us as you can also see their eye watching you when they poke their head out of the water.  That is called ‘spy hopping’ and you can see a whale doing that from the picture that one of our guests took a couple of weeks ago.

If you haven’t been out whale watching with us yet and are unsure of how long the whales are around, they keep passing through up until the first week in November so there are still whales everywhere and we love to share our experiences, as well as have our guests share theirs.  So feel free to post photos from our cruise on our Facebook fan page.

Some humpbacks don’t migrate!

Okay – so this new discovery is absolutely groundbreaking!! Scientific evidence has shown some whales may skip the migration and stay behind in Antarctica over winter… say what!?

What an incredible discovery for German marine biologist Ilse Van Opzeeland from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

At a time when they should have been 7000km north off the coast of Eastern Africa, these whales were heard ‘chatting’ to each other from a nearby scientific research station using underwater microphones.

Pulling recordings from two years in a row, it was proven that humpbacks were present in the Weddell Sea during Antarctic winter months in both years.

Traditionally it was believed all humpbacks migrate toward the equator during winter. So just what are these whales doing and why have they skipped the migration?

Considering the migration depletes a whale of about 60% of their body weight, it is thought perhaps these humpbacks were non-pregnant juvenile females who were ‘fattening themselves up’ for the following year.

A humpback whale usually spends summer in Antarctic waters, feeding on krill and building themselves up for the winter migration.

There are several sets of humpback whale populations, this particular group was heard in the eastern Weddell Sea – south of Africa. While it is unconfirmed which group these particular humpbacks came from – it is speculated they belonged to the group which migrates annually up the eastern coast of Africa.

Each humpback whale population has a unique acoustic ‘fingerprint’ which allows scientists to identify them.

Further research will be conducted to determine which population these whales belong to… and just how many are skipping the migration.

Source: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0073007

Below: Rare photo of a Humpback Whale beside a chunk of sea ice in the Weddell Sea.
The picture was taken by researchers during a January 2013 expedition.
Credit: ITAW/Carsten Rocholl

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Breathtaking Humpback Whales and their Calves

Cruising through the broadwater into the open sea, on days like today, is absolutely breathtaking and the whales just make the experience even more magical….

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Our eventful sightings today were the humpback calves breaching with their mother, which is common at this end of the season, as the calves are migrating back down south.

Then we had a pod of calves circling our boat for 30 minutes with awesome clear visibility, which was an incredible experience for our guests to see the whales up close and personal.

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Mothers and their calves swim close together, touching one another with their flippers, this is their way of affection. Females look after their calves for almost a year, as they do not stop growing until they are ten years old.

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Another Whale Breaching

SONY DSCSONY DSCZach from ‘Humpbacks and Highrises’ came out whale watching on the Gold Coast with our cruise on Thursday the 29th of August and managed to get some awesome photos with of a humpback whale breaching continuously.  Thank you Zach for sharing these with us.  This can be a rare sight for those who don’t do much whale watching so was a very special treat for our guests.

So these pictures are a great example of a humpback whale “breaching”.  Breaching is when a whale pushes its body up out of the water and then flops back down into the water again.  Depending on the speed that the whale is travelling, it can show from about half of its body out of the water, up to its whole body out of the water.  If the whale shows less than half its body, then that is called a lunge.

So these pictures here are showing a full body breach from a humpback whale which takes quite a lot of energy out of them as well.  So when they do breach numerous times, it can tire them out which is why we don’t see a humpback whale doing numerous breaches very often.

Humpback whales are also the most known breed of whale to do breaching and to be most active, the other type is the sperm whale.  That’s what makes whale watching on the Gold Coast so exciting too, because we mainly see humpback whales.  To come out and see the whales in action, make sure you book early with our friendly reservations team on (07) 5538 2111.

 

 

Playful Whales

We had a very active and fun day today out on the boat, with whales breaching left, right and centre!

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 We find the humpbacks activity is reflected by the seas conditions and they seem to be even more active and playful on windy days.

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When you see the whales breach and swim in these conditions they really do seem to be having a lot of fun.