Winter has been a cold and wet one so far here on the Surf Coast, but do not despair! We love our coast come rain, hail and shine (and snow too!) and to help you survive these cold few months we have come up with some ideas for you to enjoy the coast all year round. Read more
It’s that time of the year again – whale watching season, and what better way to see these magnificent creatures than numerous points across the Surf Coast.
With whales migrating from sub-Antarctic waters (where they feed during the summer months) to the coastline of Australia to breed during winter, sightings are currently at their peak.
Between June and October every year Southern Right Whales, generally females, come within 100 metres of the Coast. Females are returning to areas along the coast to calve and allow the young to feed, gathering strength for the journey back to the sub-Antarctic waters. However, the males, yearlings and young adults remain further out to sea and are more difficult to see.
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It is difficult to compare anything to watching the biggest mammals in water gliding lazily along the southern coastline and there are several points along the coach at which to view them.
What are the best whale watching vantage points?
There are many lookouts along the Surf Coast to see these magnificent creatures. For a full list of all the lookout from Torquay to Lorne click here.
For an unhindered view of passing whales make your way to Aireys Inlet to the Split Point Lookout which was built by GORCC in 2009.
Perhaps it’s in Lorne where only this week have the whales been sighted just 100 metres offshore, easily viewable from the Lorne Foreshore.
The Surf Coast Walk is another option – the 44km track offering many spots with uninterrupted, breathtaking views of the coast.
While you are on your whale watching adventures, if you need somewhere to stay whilst down on the Coast and are looking for affordable, family friendly accomodation why not check out the Torquay or Lorne Caravan Park?
Whatever your vantage point, the sight of one of these incredible creatures is a special and unforgettable experience.
Have you seen whales whilst holidaying down on the coast? Let us know where they were spotted!
A whale breaching at Logans beach in 2010. The photo has been provided by M.Watson, DSE, 2010
The 2011 season for Southern Right whales has commenced and the majestic creatures can now be spotted gliding along the southern coastline.
Southern Right whales migrate from sub-antarctic waters, where they feed during the summer months, to the southern coastline of Australia to breed during winter.
Senior Natural Resource Management Officer Mandy Watson from the Department Sustainability and Environment (DSE) monitors the whales.
“They come here to give birth and raise their calves, presumably because it’s warmer and there is more shelter for them.” said Ms Watson.
“They also come into the shallower waters to protect their calves from predators such as Killer whales and sharks.”
There have been two reported sightings so far this season, the first on May 10 at Logans Beach in Warrnambool and the second in Ocean Grove on May 16.
Simon Branigan Victorian National Parks Association Marine and Coastal Project Officer, said there would be many opportunities to view the whales from the Surf Coast as well.
“Driving along the Great Ocean Road is a perfect way to see whales in their natural habitat, a very special experience.
Split Point Lookout in Aireys Inlet, built by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee in 2009, features a special cliff-edge design, allowing for an unhindered view of the passing whales.
The platform is just one example of a number of spectacular viewing locations in the region.
“There are a number of lookouts and viewing platforms for drivers to safely pull over and observe the whales,” said Mr. Branigan.
Whale watchers can identify Southern Right Whales by their distinguishing features.
Unlike other whale species they don’t have a dorsal fin; they have short square pectoral fins and a distinctive v-shaped blow rather than a single plume.
They are large fat whales with a rounded heads, strongly arched mouth lines and can grow up to 18 metres long.
The whales are black in colour with some irregular white patches on their underside and white growths called callosities on their heads, which people often mistake for barnacles.
Sightings of Southern Right whales can be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (03) 5561 9961 or 0408 302 421.
This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.
Most of us are familiar with the local birds who frequent our gardens and we can probably put a name to those visitor’s who fly in during summer and leave before winter begins. Well the story is the same in the sea.
Living amongst the soft sponge gardens, seagrass meadows or swaying algal forests is a marine wonderland of colourful reef fish, spiky urchins, seastars, crabs and shellfish. Many are resident all year, feeding and breeding within the habitat in which they live.
The cool ocean waters of Southern Australia are home to an estimated 12,000 species; over 85% are endemic and as such are not found anywhere else in the world.
Reef Watch volunteers have been recording the species they see at their favourite reefs for nearly 10 years, bringing to the surface data on the types and numbers of species found at reef sites along the Victorian coast and in our bays. Reef Watch Victoria is a project of the Victorian National Parks Association, funded by the Australian Government through Caring for Our Country and Supported by Museum Victoria.
Along the Surf Coast, groups such as the Friends of Point Addis National Park are involved in the programme and have been surveying the parks abundant fish life during the Great Victorian Fish Count, held in December each year. They have discovered Blue-Throated and Senator Wrasse, Sea Sweep, Banded and Magpie Morwongs, Southern Hulafish, Leatherjackets, Toadfish and Stingrays. The diversity of fish species paints a picture of a healthy reef providing for the different requirements of the fish.
For the past three years, Grade five and six students from Lorne-Aireys P-12, have also been involved in the Great Victorian Fish Count and have had fun surveying the fish under the Lorne Pier. They have been surprised to find there is quite a variety of fish living under the pier, including stripy Zebra fish, Old Wives and Six-spined Leatherjackets.
At the Ingoldsby Reef near Anglesea, divers are able to see an abundance of marine life. It is one of the longest shallow offshore reefs in Victorian waters and is home to over a hundred species of algae, as well as colourful ascidians, fanlike gorgonian corals and feathery hydroids.
Ocean visitors to the Surf Coast can occasionally be seen breaching the surface, including Humpback and Southern Right Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and giant pelagic sunfish. Below the surface, Mulloway, Australian Salmon, Wobbegongs and School sharks move through the reefs on their way to breed in the bays and inlets or to follow the migratory path of their prey as they move with the seasons of the sea.
Reef Watch volunteers also monitor the marine life at their favourite reefs during the year, providing a seasonal snapshot of the species found. Species lists for each monitored site have been produced, providing a record of the marine biodiversity and complexity of reefs found along the coast.
For further information on Reef Watch Victoria visit
www.reefwatchvic.asn.au or to find out more about the Surf Coasts marine life and community groups, visit http://www.exploreunderwatervictoria.org.au/gallery-8/.