Winter in the Margaret River Region means whales, as we welcome these majestic animals to the WA coastline from their Antarctic feeding grounds
Each year thousands of humpback whales travel up the WA coastline to breed, and females impregnated the previous year come to give birth in the warm northern waters. In spring they return southwards with their calves.
Augusta is the mecca for winter whales watching, an unmissable chance to see these breathtaking creatures breaching, rolling, tail diving and spy hopping (pushing their head out of the water for a look around)
You’ll also have the rare chance to see humpbacks having a whale of a time playing with southern right whales, which hang around the south coast during the cooler months. Cruise guides will help you spot other ocean life, such as dolphins, seals, sea eagles and albatrosses. With luck, you might spot a rare blue whale into the bargains!
Did you know? Western Australia is home to the healthiest whales in the world, thanks to our clean waters and low shipping density. No wonder a whopping 40% of the world’s humpback whales travel along our coastline each year. Scientists here have counted around 35,000 creatures, and reckon they give birth to 3000 calves every winter.
Whale poop is natures way to offset carbon. Each day, a humpback whales eats up to a tonne of krill, which are very high in iron. Whales poop creates iron rich fertiliser for the oceans garden. The healthier the plants, the more carbon they consume-result, healthier planet!
More than 2 million whales were taken by commerce whaling in the southern oceans during the 20th century, driving them almost to extinction. Scientists say it will be many more decades before we reach pre-whaling numbers. Southern right whales remain endangered.
Whales have been swimming in the ocean for 50 million years, and the rare blue whale’s the largest mammal ever to have lived on the planet. Growing to 25-30m and sometimes weighing in at well over 100 tonnes, they dwarf the gigantic humpbacks at a mere 16m and 30 tonnes!
Imagine being pregnant for 12 months and giving birth to a 1.5 tonne baby that needs 240 litres of milk a day. Such is the life of a female humpback whale! Male humpbacks court them by singing the longest and most impressive songs in whaledom. Some cruises have hydrophones to allow you to hear the whales sing.
Naturaliste Charters is a family run business and the first whale watching operator to provide the chance for the members of the public to get up close and personal with whales in the Margaret River Region.
Celebrating it’s 25th anniversary in 2018, Paul and his wife Alison bought the business in 2009 and have expanded their offering to provide some of the most memorable experiences that guests will have on the high seas.
We’ve got the biggest number of humpback whales seen anywhere on the planet migrating up the coastline, from 30,000 to 35,000 humpback whales. Additionally, geographically we have the longest season in Australia waters, starting late May and finishing in early December.
Everyone on the vessel is highly trained, educated in animal behaviour from killer whales to sperm whales, humpbacks to dolphins.
It’s really an educational journey that guests have when they come on board, it’s a privilege for us to be able to share the knowledge with guests and have them come off the boat having not only seen these amazing animals but learnt about them too.
From humble beginnings eight years ago guests and researchers are now taken out on state-of-the-art boats worth over $2.5 million
Being in that landscape on a daily basis, particularly Augusta and Dunsborough, is such a lucky place to operate. Especially with the $5 million marina in Augusta now, when we started it was off the beach. It also makes it more accessible. Our goal is to have as many people experience the majestic of mother nature and the ocean. It’s only when they understand how precious it is, that people begin to realise how important it is that we protect it and save it from destruction.
Written by Jane Hammond