Warrnambool, Australia: Southern Right Whales!

September 1, 2013 in Australia, Oceania

Southern Right Whale

Logan’s Beach, along the coast at Warrnambool, at the end of the Great Ocean Road, is known as the “whale nursery.” Every year, between July and September, female Southern Right Whales swim to these waters to give birth and then nurse in the safety of this shallow bay while the calves grow big enough and strong enough to make the long trip back to the Antarctic waters where the whales feed.

Some fun facts about these magnificent creatures:

  • adult females can grow to 15 meters (49 ft)
  • they can weigh up to 47 tonnes
  • there are approximately 10,000 left in the southern hemisphere
  • they never cross into equatorial waters, because their blubber it too thick, they’d overheat!
  • the white bumpy patches on their faces are called callosities and are a result of whale lice

Today we stood on the viewing platform above the beach and looked out over the clear blue waters of the bay, and counted black whale backs and big puffs of mist blown high into the air by big mama whales and relatively little babies.



Three… four… five…


We spotted six pair of mothers and calves lounging and rolling just outside the breaking waves where surfers tucked into the deep blue curls beneath snow white foam, howling towards the sand.

It was quite something to sip my morning tea in the presence of twelve whales, just back from the brink of extinction. It occurred to me that this is the morning tea that I’ll wish for every morning for a very long time. We took some pictures for you, and a video of a baby whale whooping it up  (Ezra says he thinks the baby was throwing a temper tantrum.) Of course the photos don’t do the morning justice.

You’ll have to imagine the wind off the sea, and the sun on your shoulders. You’ll have to listen hard to hear the mixed accent of the English-German-Australian fellow who shared his binoculars with us and whispered to me about the whales, inviting us to plant trees with him next weekend. You’ll have to decide where to look as various creatures show off, spy hopping, flopping about and batting fins in the surf, to the left and the right, further out and closer in to the coast.  It will be a struggle to take it all in and fully appreciate the moment, but I know you’ll try.

Do your best to memorize the moment to go with less interesting cups of tea in your future.

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale