Winter in Australia can get cold, but that is the best time to head for the south coast and try an spot some playful whales. From as early as mid May head south to glimpse any of the 30 species of whales found in South Australian waters. The whales usually hang around until early September before heading off again. The most popular places to catch a glimpse of the whales Victor Harbor through to Goolwa.
Whale watching is not only about seeing whales, it is also allowing yourself to focus on the beauty of the world around you. Even if you do not see a whale, the feeling of sitting on high ground looking out to see is calming. Sometimes you may not see a whale for several hours and another time you will see them straight away, But the most important part is to sit and appreciate the beauty around you.
The beauty of seeing that first whale leap out of the water into the air and land again in the ocean with a giant splash is worth the wait. Whales, despite their size, are extremely graceful and peaceful to watch.
As Victor Harbor is the most popular place to see these graceful creatures, there is a dedicated whale centre which was established in 1994 set up for visitors to learn more about them.
Dedicated Whale Centre
To learn more about the whales, visitors can drop into the Whale Watch Centre at Victor Harbor where there are interactive displays and education tools set up. The centre opened in 1994 and includes special research and whale watch experts who monitor and track the whales to learn more about them.
The building itself has a long history dating back 150 years to the 1800s where it was used as a goods shed for the steam trains to load and unload their products. Evidence of this are the rail tracks poking out from the east and western ends of the building.
One Blow or Two?
There are two types of whales which you may see; Baleen whales and Toothed whales.
A Baleen whale has two blowholes on its head which allow for them to blow that distinctive V-shaped spray high into the air. They are migration whales and spend most of their time in Antarctica before heading into Australian waters to mate and give birth to baby whales.
Whereas, the Toothed whales only have one to allow them to release a straight single blow into the air. These include Orcas (killer whales) and dolphins.
The most common whales which can be seen in South Australian waters are:
Southern Right Whale
A baleen whale which grows between 14-18 metres in length and is a grey black colour. it does not have a dorsal fin but it can shoot water up to 5 metres high in a v-shaped blow.
A baleen whale which grows 13-16 metres in length and is a dark brown/black colour. It has a white underbelly and flippers and gives out a short, bushy blow up to 4 metres high.
At 25-30 metres in length the blue whale is the largest living mammal, even bigger than the dinosaurs. It weighs between 100-200 tonne and can live up to 80 years of age. It has two blowholes and can shoot water into the air at an impressive 6-8 metres high.
Photos courtesy of Google Clip Art Gallery