We have had some pretty wild weather lately – lots of rain, wind etc. The conditions made it unsuitable for surfing for most on the west coast, but in the bay it was different. The swell came around the corner and created some good fun surfing conditions. It was very popular – Pt Picquet carpark was full.
I shot this image of Meelup. Unusually large surf for Meelup, and the young girl and her dog running to get to the surf conveyed the atmosphere very well.
The second shot taken around the corner at Gannet Rock looking towards Castle Rock in the distance shows the conditions.
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.
The whale watching season has started! At the moment there is about 1 humpback an hour passing on their way back to Antartica for the summer feeding grounds. It is very early in the season, and individual whales seem to be arriving – perhaps these are unaccompanied males. As the season progresses the numbers will increase (last year they peaked at around 8 an hour in October), and we will start to see pods with mixtures of calves and grown whales.
For those who aren’t familiar with the humpback migration off Western Australia here are some facts.
Each year an estimated 36,000 humpbacks leave the Antarctic waters and migrate north to Campben Sound north of Derby. The Antartic waters are too cold for newborn calves who have very little or no blubber to protect them. The mothers-to-be travel north to give birth in the warmer waters, and the rest go with them. They seem to gather in Flinders Bay near Augusta before rounding Cape Leeuwin and going north. This occurs April/May and we rarely see these whales in Geographe Bay – they seem to travel a long way offshore. Up north the new mothers have to fatten the calves before their return to Antarctica. Whale milk is around 60% fat and the calves put on a layer of blubber nearly 1m thick, and this all comes from the mother. While up north the whales have no food source, so it is believed they don’t eat from the time they leave Antarctica to the time they return.
On the return southwards journey many of the whales travel closer to the coast. Those closer inshore eventually wind up in Geographe Bay. When they reach the shallow waters of the bay they turn west and round Cape Naturaliste before continuing south. It seems perhaps 15-20% of the whales travelling south wind up in Geographe Bay and they can often be seen less than 50m from the shore. Castle Rock, Meelup, Pt Picquet, Eagle Bay, Rocky Point and Bunkers Bay are all good vantage points as well as the whale lookout near the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse.
This is a beautiful much photographed beach. This afternoon I spotted a local enjoying it. She was completely unfazed by my presence and allowed me to get up close.
This was an enjoyable evening – I was on my way to Pt Picquet to catch a salmon (which I did). Last year no salmon got this far north but this year we are enjoying a return of the salmon. A couple of days ago I found a small school in “Grannie’s Pool” at Yallingup. I didn’t have my rod, so got a fisherman up the beach interested, and he wound up catching enough to give one to me and a friend. As we were taking them home we were accosted by an elderly Japanese couple who wanted my photo with the fish. I said no – and placed a salmon in the man’s hand and said “Take a photo of your husband”. My friend with the other salmon put it in his other hand and another friend put his fishing rod next to the man. So the lady got a photo of her husband with all the fishing gear and one salmon in each hand. I think they will remember their trip to Yallingup for a long time. (For those who don’t know an Australian salmon is about 80cm long and weighs 4kg – a respectable fish).
I cant recall ever seeing so many people at Meelup. The carparks were full, the access road had cars parked both sides (restricting the road to a single lane – with cars trying to go through in both directions), and the bypass road had cars parked everywhere. Traffic chaos. It was a huge party, as you can see.
As the temperature was around 40C it was a thirsty day, and it seemed most were making sure they didn’t get dehydrated!
Enough of storms – here is a shot of Meelup with yellow sand, turquoise water and blue skies. It is easy to see why this beach is a favourite of many people (including photographers).
This morning I went to Meelup. There was a superb sunrise, but that wasn’t the star attraction this morning. The sea was obviously still warm and there was a cold offshore
sea breeze blowing. The warm air over the ocean was meeting the cold air off the land, and creating a fog which was moving rapidly out to sea. The combination of the fog, and the sunrise was amazing. This shot shows the fog. It was taken after sunrise, and looking away from the sunrise.
This second one is a “classical” Meelup shot.
The next shows the sunrise at its most spectacular.
And finally some lovely tones. It was a superb mornings shooting, and I have lots more to stitch!