I went out again on Geographe Maritime’s Kerra Lyn. It is a great boat for photographers. Today the conditions were idyllic. Just one problem. No whales. Our skipper John persevered and we went out a long way before we sighted this pod. No breaching today but I still got some shots I really like. This one is one of my favourite whale shots.
In case you are wondering the humpback is going away from me, and the thing on the top of his back is the dorsal fin.
Today was wet, cold (by Dunsborough standards), and at times windy. I went out to Pt Picquet to get out of the house and was rewarded by seeing a humpback whale and calf go past only 100m out from the shore. Nice, but no photos – it was raining and they didn’t put much above the surface. Still it was good to see as it is the start of the annual southern migration. Then the sun came out, and I got this double rainbow.
Then I went out on the west coast. I got some dolphin surfing shots, but there are many better on this blog, so I won’t post them. It is always nice to see them though. On my way home I met this guy – he wasn’t at all concerned I was close by. I love the red colour of the rocks – it is caused by a lichen that grows on the rocks.
After that I saw some Southern Right Whales just south of Cape Naturaliste. Too far away to photograph.
All in all a pretty nice wet wintry Sunday.
I have been looking out for Southern Right Whales lately. It has been about 10 days since there were any around in the western end of Geographe Bay. Last night 2 adults and a 3 metre calf (very young) showed up at Meelup. The calf was very active, and they moved off towards Pt Picquet. A boat which had been anchored started up and followed them. They immediately went into “stealth mode” and only surfaced briefly every few minutes. When the boat moved off the calf began playing – leaping out of the water continuously. They were at times less than 10m offshore. As they rounded Pt Picquet the sun was setting and I got this shot of the calf in the golden light.
Here are some more shots of the calf.
The next two were taken after sunset, necessitating slower shutter speeds and high ISO.
Sunday I saw 8 blue whales from the shore at Pt Picquet. Geographe Bay is probably the only place in the world that you can see these massive whales sometimes only 50m from shore.
Yesterday was even more eventful. I went to Cape Naturaliste early and in an hour and a half a blue whale and about 20 pods of humpbacks passed – probably 60 whales in total. Some were very close – 70-80 metres out (there are some offshore submerged rocks and this is about as close as they get. On the way home I called into Pt Picquet – 2 more blue whales. Later I received a call from some friends – they had been watching a blue whale and calf behaving erratically – changing course 7 times in an hour and going out to sea, and repeatedly coming back in. Normally they swim straight past from east to west at around 7-8 knots.
I went back out to Pt Picquet to see if I could see this whale. It had disappeared – they can dive and stay under for lengthy periods and travel a long way while under. However we located a Southern Right Whale 150m offshore. It was being accompanied by 2 humpbacks. Again this is unusual.
Just as we identified the Southern Right Whale, someone called out – forget the whales – photograph the shark! There was a 2.5m-3.0m bronze whaler about a metre from the waters edge moving slowly towards Eagle Bay. So after informing the authorities I had to go and warn the people swimming in its path.
This image was taken on the walk back from Cape Naturaliste. You can see Sugarloaf Rocks and Cape Clairault in the background.
I have included this composite image for anyone curious as to what a blue whale looks like. They are fairly uninteresting – they never breach and one of these views is all you can see. At any time only about 1/4 of the body is showing, so it is difficult to appreciate their size. These images are of two whales – at first we thought there was only one because they were rising alternately. I was trying to match the body shots to the head to the head shots – that is why I created this image.
It is the height of the humpback whale migration south at the moment. Plus there are a number of blue whales passing by. Yesterday a mother calf pair of humpbacks seemed to be inspecting the coastline and they passed Pt Picquet less than 30m from the shore. They dawdled past Eagle Bay and when they went past Rocky Point they were still just outside the line of rocks in the shallows. The calf was pretty excited, continuously doing tail slaps. Here are some images.
To cap off the day two pairs of blue whales passed within 300 metres of the shore at Pt Picquet later in the day.
I went to Meelup today and saw these Southern Right Whales. These are rare, and endangered – estimates are that there are fewer than 4-5000 worldwide. They move north from May-June on because the calves when born have no fat and wouldn’t survive the Antartic waters. Southern Right Whales must have more blubber than humpbacks because they don’t go as far north as the humpbacks. They can’t stand the heat, and most go to the Great Australian Bite. Some come north into Geographe Bay and they are very special. It is extremely rare for them to be sighted north of Rottnest, although one was seen at Cottesloe beach a week ago.
If these whales are rare then this calf is even rarer – it is mostly white. I am told it is not an albino as it is not completely white. But it is a Southern WHITE whale.
When they come into Geographe Bay they seem to play (or chase baitfish). These two were playing for a long time in Castle Rock Bay until they were disturbed by the whale watching boat. The boat did nothing wrong – maintained the correct distances etc, but the whales were disturbed and moved off towards Dunsborough past Castle Rock. As I was on top of Castle Rock waiting for them I can’t complain, but it is worrying that everytime these whales settle in, they get disturbed.
Here are some closeups.