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Kalbarri witnesses the annual migration of Humpback whales from approximately June to November. An estimated 35,000 whales travel along our coastline on their round trip between Antarctica and the warm waters of Camden Sound along the Kimberley Coast.

The north bound migration of the Humpback whale seems to be further off shore, during which time they move along quite quickly but their south bound migration is a slower process and much closer to the coast with whales hanging around and enjoying the warmer waters. As the ocean floor off Kalbarri stays quite deep all the way up to the coastline and with its bays and 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 KalbarriKalbarri whale website low res

We see a lot of mothers and calves, some of the babies are still light grey which means they are very young and have been born in our area. There are two surprising things about whale 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.

It's boot camp for the calves. In the calm, protected waters the calves learn the life skills needed to make the long journey to the Antarctic.

The mechanics of spy-hopping, tail slapping and breaching are taught and practiced, 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 mum's back enjoying the wake speed she creates.

Groups of boisterous juvenile males put on great displays with lots of breaching, grunting and chasing each other. Courtship and love are also in the air and we often see groups of males seducing one female trying to get her attention by tail slapping 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! Pods of pilot whales are not uncommon, they swim in deeper water and travel in large groups, sometimes consisting 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 regularly seen travelling together. Some days, our coastline is like an episode of National Geographic.


Interesting Humpback facts


      Length: Adults – 14m to 18m


      Calves – 4m to 5m at birth


      Weight: Adults – up to 50 tonnes


      Calves – 2 tonnes at birth


      Cruising speed: 7km/hr


      Protected since 1965


      Individual humpbacks can be identified by markings under their tail and flippers


      The spread of its jaw is over 4 metres


      Sings the longest, most complex songs in the animal kingdom


      Humpbacks have the most diverse feeding techniques of all Baleen Whales - they scream when hunting fish to scare and confuse them


      You can distinguish the humpback whale from other whale species by its small dorsal fin that you see sticking out of the water when the whale arches its back to dive and this is how the humpback got its name

      The humpback whale is a favourite with whale watchers in Kalbarri due to its spectacular display of acrobatic tricks. It is not uncommon to see a breach, where the whale leaps right out of the water, rolls in the air with its huge fins outstretched like wings and then crashes back into the water.