There around 30 species of whales and dolphins found in the Great Barrier Reef waters.
Humpback Whales visit the warm waters of the Whitsundays every winter from June to September to calve and breed. The Dwarf Minke Whales also pass through the waters at this time. Both Migaloo and Chalkie, the white humpback whales, have been seen in the Whitsundays.
During these months, while your chartering, a good lookout needs to be maintained during these months and exclusion zones apply.
The most common species of dolphin is the Bottlenose Dolphin. They are found year round and may swim under the bow for periods of time when your boat is underway.
Whale watching in the Whitsundays is a beautiful experience and something you can do almost every day when you charter a bareboat between June and August.
The Whitsunday Islands are known as a whale watching hot spot. Whales choose the warm calm, protected waters around Airlie Beach and the islands of the Whitsundays to give birth to their young each year. It’s not uncommon to see a brand new whale calf taking its first breaths and being taught how to swim by its mother.
Humpback whales are a common sighting in the Whitsundays, and sometimes pilot whales too. The Whitsundays has been known as a spot where Migaloo the white whale has been spotted on numerous occasions, and Chalkie the white whale was born here as well.
DID YOU KNOW?
A whale is not a fish, it is a mammal. It breathes air.
Whales are known for their breaching – where they shoot up and out of the water, landing with a great big splash. Humpback whales use their strong tail fin, known as a ‘fluke’, to propel themselves through the water and sometimes completely out of it.
Scientists aren’t sure if this breaching behaviour has a purpose, such as cleaning their skin, or if they do it just for fun! (We think it looks pretty fun)
Whales eat plankton, krill and small fish, but only in the summer in their Antarctic home. While migrating north, they live off stored fat reserves.
Mothers and their calves swim so close together, and they often touch their flippers. Turns out whales are affectionate mothers too! Whales are nursed for about a year, but they don’t reach full adulthood until about 10 years of age.
DID YOU KNOW?
A humpback whale’s tail fin is so unique, with their black and white markings and scalloped edges, that they are as identifiable as a human fingerprint?
It’s very important that the whales are not disturbed. To ensure their continued survival, they need to feel safe in the ‘nursery’ where they deliver their young. It’s important to stick to the restrictions issued by GBRMPA for safe whale watching.
In the Whitsundays, we have a Whale Protection Area in place. That means no vessels* are permitted to go within 300m of a whale.
Having said this, whales can be curious creatures and have often been known to swim up to boats to have a good look around. If a whale approaches your boat, turn off all engines and let it swim around safely near you.
*A vessel is described as anything capable of carrying a person through or on the water, including non-motorised watercraft such as kayaks and paddleboards.