Kalbarri whale watching
At Kalbarri, we are witnessing again the migration of Humpback whales which goes from June to November. An estimated 22.000 whales will pass WA’s coastline on their way from and back to the Antarctic.
From our 18 years experience as a whale watch charter the Humpback whales’ north bound migration seems to be further off shore ,during that time they move along quite quickly but their south bound migration is much closer to the coast and a much slower process with lots of hanging around and enjoying the warmer waters.As the ocean floor of Kalbarri stays quite deep all the way up to the coastline and with it’s bays and it’s accessible cliffs it gives visitors a unique advantage of amazing coastal sightings and makes Kalbarri the best place in WA to see Humpback whales.
Baby whales in Kalbarri
Lately we have been seeing lots of mothers and calves, some of the babies are still light grey which means they are very young and must have been born in our area.There are two surprising things about whales calves.The first is that they put on about 60kg a day during feeding. The second is that these little fatties go to preschool. Kalbarri is a great place to see these giant water babies at play.
But this is no whale version of a Club Med kids club - its boot camp for junior. In the calm, protected waters the calves learn the life skills needed to make the long return journey to the Antarctic.
The mechanics of spy-hopping, tail slapping and breaching are taught and practised, as well as tail lobbing, flipper slapping and head standing. The calves also learn how to feed and how to utilise the tides and currents.Often we see them taking a ride on mummies’back enjoying the wake speed she creates.
Many groups of boisterous juvenile males have been putting on great displays with lots of breaching, grunting and chasing each other. Courtship and love are also in the air and we have been seeing groups of males seducing one female trying to get her attention by tailslapping etc...
Whale species spotted around Kalbarri
Other whales seen are Brides whales which are very shy but are a force of nature when popping out of the water snapping up a school of bait!Recently we’ve also spotted a pod of pilot whales,they swim in deeper water and travel in large groups,the group we saw must have consisted of about 40 animals.
Southern rights are not as frequent as Humpbacks but do visit us ,often hanging out in the shallows feeding their babies.These whales are notorious for their inactivity and will 'log' (rest) on the surface of the water for hours, doing absolutely nothing giving people standing on the shore amazing photo opportunities.
The Humpback whales and dolphins have a close affinity and are regularely seen travelling together.Some days it is like being out in an episode of National Geographic:”The whales are putting on a display while the dolphins criss cross in between then leap out of the water alongside the boat to get a sneak peak of our customers.” These experiences leaves people speechless, in awe and gratefull to be sharing a bit of time with these amazing creatures in their natural environment.
Our local resident Bottlenose dolphins are a constant entertainment for visitors,they can be seen travelling along the coastline from shore or people can join a charter and see them "surfing" on the bow of the boat, this is done for the purpose of "hitching a ride" on the currents pushed forward by the boat and considered to be good luck. The dolphins are quite acrobatic and can be seen doing complex and artful aerial manoeuvres that awe spectators. Several pods inhabit our coastline and each one has different dynamics.A few years back one of our pods has adopted an Indo-Pacific dolphin,at first they were a bit wary of him but now he seems to be fully integrated.Indo Pacific dolphins are much lighter in color,so he definitely stands out!
6 months ago we welcomed the birth of a new baby in one of the pods,when we saw it first it must have been just a few days old,it was about 3ft long and so cute... already trying to keep up with mum but still looking a bit wobbly ,not much different then puppy dogs.
Other sealife encounters in Kalbarri
Because of the impact of the El Niño which is associated with increased sea surface temperatures we spot on a regular basis species that usally do not frequent that often in our waters such as Sea Turtles and Seasnakes.We have been catching certain fish types that usually are found more up North and on a few occasions people even caught Marlin of Kalbarri.
We’ve seen large groups of Manta Rays,one day we counted 18 swimming near the coastal Cliffs.
Whale Sharks have also been regular visitors this year,we saw them on a daily basis during our fishing trips and sometimes in as close as the rivermouth.
And last but not least we have our resident seal,often sighted from shore&boats munching on Octopus or chasing fish.
Kalbarri, due to it’s location is blessed to have all these species so accessible for viewing.It’s climate all year round and it’s ability to cater for tourism makes it the best holiday town in WA for Marine Wildlife encounters.Wether you want to go whale watching,see dolphins,catch a fish...success is guaranteed.