If you have ever been whale watching, you may have asked yourself if the whales are watching you as much as you are watching them. What would whales do if they had a camera? Probably snap a photo of us watching them.
Whales are very intelligent. One of the most intelligent species of whales is the humpback. They are hard to get up and personal with in many locations around the world. One of the best places to see them in their natural habitat is in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia.
When Can I Go Whale Watching in Moreton Bay, Queensland?
Moreton Bay is well-known for its rich marine life. However, if you would like to go whale watching, the best time to go is between June and November.
During the rest of the year, you can still see marine life. But, instead of whales, you are more likely to encounter dolphins, sharks and turtles.
What Is Special About Moreton Bay?
Moreton Bay has one of the most diverse marine habitats in the world. The Moreton Bay Marine Park covers more than 3400 square kilometres of both open and sheltered waterways.
The sea floor is packed with a variety of seagrasses that create a perfect shelter for fish and other marine species.
Then you have the mangroves which are home to prawns, crabs and what can only be described as excellent nursery facilities for fish.
Not only can you encounter humpback whales in Moreton Bay. If you are lucky, and venture into more sheltered waters, you can also come across Dugongs. To many, the Dugong is better known as the sea cow.
An adult Dugong can grow up to 3 metres and weigh up to 400kg. Considering the Dugong feed mainly on seagrass, they are not a bad example of what a vegan diet can do for you.
The main reason many visitors flock to Moreton Bay, Queensland is to see humpback whales.
Humpback Whales in Moreton Bay
While other whales visit Moreton Bay, the most popular visitor is the humpback whale.
They flock to warmer Australian waters to mate and give birth. The humpback whales found in Australian waters migrate around 6000km from the Antarctic which is their main feeding ground.
The humpbacks swim up the eastern Australian coastline arriving in the sheltered lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef from mid June onwards. Not all of them are in a hurry to get back to Antarctic waters and some stay over in the Moreton Bay area.
In general, most humpback whales have left Moreton Bay by November.
Not only can you spot humpback whales in Moreton Bay. If you are lucky, you will also see killer whales, sperm whales, minke whales and melon headed whales. All are worth seeing if you are on a whale watching trip.
How Can I Go Whale Watching in Queensland?
If you would like to have an opportunity to see humpback and other whales in Queensland, one of the best things you can do is to arrange a whale watching excursions.
With the increase in the humpback whale population, more people are reporting sightings from land. But, when you want to increase your changes of seeing whales, it is best to go on an organised excursion.
Can I Charter A Boat And Go On My Own?
This is not recommended. First of all, it decreases the chances of you seeing a whale.
You also need to know have experience of “whale etiquette.” When it comes to whale watching, keeping your distance is important. It is easy to upset whales. The last thing the Queensland authorities want is to disturb the whales. Calves risk becoming separated from their mothers. This is not going to support the population.
When Is the Best Time To See the Whales?
The best time of the year to watch whales as they migrate is in the late autumn and spring. In July and August, they often start to swim back south again searching for better feeding opportunities.
Most whale watching excursions take place when the sea is calm. When you want to go on an excursion, you should be prepared to get up early in the morning. Later in the day, the sea is often higher and you may encounter a swell.
In the afternoon, the whales often come closer to land and you may be able to spot them while you stand on the shore. It is a great way to do a bit of personal whale watching as you realise how interesting their natural behaviour is when undisturbed.
Bring a scope or pair of binoculars and you may even spot the calves with their mums.
How To Make the Most Out of Whale Watching
Seeing a whale in the wild is a special experience. You will have a better experience when you treat each other with respect.
Don’t assume that the whale is going to pop up next to the boat. It would appear that some whales are happy to do a bit of “human watching” while other whales are more reluctant.
For many, their encounter with any whale becomes a deeply personal experience that stays with them for the rest of their lives.
Favourite activities of whales include blowing out, breaching, fin and tail slapping.
All whales are as unique as we are and have their own markings. If you have been whale watching in Queensland before, you may think you recognise a whale. It is probably true.
On your first trip, take as many photographs as you can and see if you can recognise your whale. Often their pectoral fins are different. Scientists often recognise whales from their pectoral fins.
Are They Watching Me?
That is a good question.
It would appear that whales do like to watch you. Many like to swim close to boats and lock eyes with whale watchers.
Looking into the eye of another thinking mammal, especially a marine one, is a special experience. What are they thinking? Perhaps they are wondering what you are doing on a boat and why you are not in the water.
Where Can I Pick Up A Whale Watching Excursion?
There are different kinds of whale watching experienciences. If you want to see whales from high above, you can even take a helicopter tour.
However, if you are visiting Brisbane, consider taking a boat excursion instead. This is a great opportunity to get closer to the whales.
If you do want to make a whale watching tour part of your visit to Queensland, it is important that you book well in advance.
Although there are more whales visiting Moreton Bay than ever before, the space on the water is limited. None of the tour companies want to interfere with the natural behaviour of the whales.
Tours depart from Redcliffe and there are different excursions available. Safety is priority as far as excursion providers are concerned. You need to be prepared for different weather conditions.
As the sea is calmer in the mornings, most skippers like to set off early. Some boats offer fully inclusive experiences with lunch.
One experience that has become popular over recent years is the MV Eye Spy experience. This is the only whale watching excursion where the captain keeps in touch with a plane making sure you spot a whale while you are out on the water.
Private charters are also available for whale watching in Moreton Bay. They often leave the Redcliffe Jetty but you can also hop on from other locations including Parklands and Riverside.
Not only is this a great opportunity to see whales, but you also get the chance to see Brisbane from the sea.
Prices vary so shop around and find out what whale watching experience suits you.
Can I Swim With the Whales?
At no point, should you try to swim with the whales. It may seem tempting, but remember that these are wild animals.
An adult humpback weighs 25,000 – 30,000 kg. This means that they can easily flip your boat over if you don’t approach them in the right way.
Humpback whales are also one of the longest whales. An adult one can measure s much as 18 metres long. That is another reason you should not get in the water with them – not even on your paddle board.
Some whales may also carry disease that can be transmitted to humans. Stay out of the way of the blow. First it does not smell very nice and may even have mucous in it.
Most of what comes out is hot air but you never know.
Whale watching Moreton Bay is a unique experience. Keep on watching, and you will realize each whale has its own way of doing things. Some like breaching and others like showing off their beautiful tales with a tail flip or two.
Plan ahead before you go whale watching. This is one occasion when you don't want to leave your camera or Go Pro at home or behind in your hotel room. Many who have been whale watching say that it profoundly changed their life. Maybe it will change your as well.