Whales sighted early on coast

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) have reported  three sightings of whales along the coast of Marengo on the Great Ocean Road (read the full media release).

whale breaching

DSE has called on Victorians to report any sightings of whales over the next few weeks after earlier than usual sightings of migrating humpbacks off our coast.

DSE Senior Biodiversity Officer at Warrnambool, Mandy Watson said they have had two sightings of Humpback Whales off the Victorian coast this year and they are keen to hear from anyone if they see any more.
“We normally don’t start seeing Humpback Whales until April or May so we are very interested in hearing any further reports of these early starters.”

“Anyone sighting migrating humpback or southern right whales over the next few weeks should call the DSE Customer Service Centre on 136 186,” Ms Watson said.

Marine mammals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and rules and regulations are in place to protect them.

To report an emergency (stranding, entanglement, injury or death) involving a whale or a dolphin call the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline – 1300 136 017.

A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.
A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.

Are you keeping an eye out for migrating whales this year, and where are the best spots on the coast to sight them?

Let us know below.

Related blog posts:

southern whaleWinter whale watching

Winter whale watching

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.

Southern Right Whales are a spectacular view from many different locations along the 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.

For more information click here.

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.

The Split Point Lookout in Aireys Inlet has fantastic views of the southern coastline

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!

Whale watching season underway

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 mandy.watson@dse.vic.gov.au 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.

Explore Underwater Victoria

From the comfort of home or even your holiday abode, you can now dive in and explore what lies beneath the waves along the Great Ocean Road without getting wet.

Victorian National Parks Association’s new interactive website, Explore Underwater Victoria, features an amazing collection of underwater photographs and videos, up to date educational resources and group contacts.

As you weave your way along the Great Ocean Road, starting off at Torquay to Apollo Bay, the website showcases the marine national parks and sanctuaries in the area, including the deep water sponge gardens off Point Addis.

Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)
Sea Star (Photographer Bill Boyle)

As you journey further along this spectacular landscape, the underwater arches off Port Campbell are on display as well as the hidden wonders of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)
Sea Sweep (Photographer Phillip Doak)

Next up as the end of the Great Ocean Road approaches near Warrnambool images of the majestic Southern Right Whale with calf, Australian Fur Seals and the ledge dwelling Port Jackson Sharks are on display.

Port Jackson Shark ( Photographer Mark Norman)
Port Jackson Shark (Photographer Mark Norman)

The Explore Underwater Victoria website is an initiative of the Victorian National Parks Association with support from Museum Victoria.  The goal with this new website is to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of Victoria’s natural marine environment as well as associated local coastal and marine activities and how to get involved.

For further information on the Victorian National Parks Association and their marine and coastal campaign visit:

www.vnpa.org.au and to discover more of the hidden wonders of Victoria’s underwater world go to www.exploreunderwater.vnpa.org.au

Or contact: Simon Branigan, Marine & Coastal Project Officer, Victorian National Parks Association, Level 3, 60 Leicester St, Carlton 3053. E-mail: simonb@vnpa.org.au: 03 9341-6508.

Story contributed by the Victorian National Parks Association.

What’s not to love about the coast in winter?

Ahhh! The coast in winter. Many of us who live and work here believe it sparkles even more brightly during the colder months than it does in the harsh sunlight of summer. While we are the lucky ones who love the coast all year round, winter is perhaps the time of year when we love it the most.

As the temperature drops and the hordes depart after the Easter break, we love the way that life on the coast settles into a quieter and more relaxed pace that is very easy to take. We’re sure our native animal and plant life appreciate having less people around to contend with too!

We love the feel of the crisp sea air on our faces and the way it can turn our noses and cheeks into a glamorous shade of red as we take in an ever changing seascape. There’s nothing like rugging up and walking along a virtually deserted beach watching the colours of the sea and sky change depending on the time of day and weather conditions. No day is ever the same but every day is beautiful.

Winter is also the time when the whales come through on their annual pilgrimage to their winter breeding grounds. Whale sightings are common right along the coast at this time of year and have already been reported at various spots, including Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne. It’s impossible to be blasé about catching a sight of these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. We love that too.

And for those of us who surf, we love the winter swells. Non-surfers may find this hard to believe but winter is the best time of year to surf. The waves are less crowded while swell conditions are generally more consistently surfable, whether it’s two foot or six foot plus. Wind conditions often tend to be more surf-friendly too although there’s no accounting for the whims of Mother Nature at any time of the year.

These are just some of the jewels we cherish from our coast’s treasure chest of winter delights. Why not share what you love about the coast in winter by posting a comment on this blog?