Whale migration east coast Australia, usually takes place during the Antarctic winter, when whales from the south head north along Austrtalia’s eastern coastline. This is usually in response to the cold conditions in the sea, causing them to escape to warmer waters. This lasts until the spring season begins, when they return to the south for feeding.
As the cold weather grows in these southern waters from March, these warm-blooded animals find the region uncomfortable for three reasons; First, food becomes very scarce since the fishes that the whales feed on also migrate, leading to certain hunger and probable death. Second, the warm northern waters provide the perfect breeding ground for whales and this guarantees their survival since May to September is the breeding season. Lastly, the cold waters are potentially fatal for their calves which are usually born in the warmer waters in the second half of the year.
Most of these whales are of the humpback species and usually hurry north as early as may when the waters of Australia’s east coast are much more pleasant. They are visible from Sydney harbor where a robust whale watching culture prevails at this time of the year. Humpback adults range in length from 12–16 meters and weigh about 80,000 pounds. Their name derives from their very long pectoral fins and knobby head that make them look like they have a hump.
Also available in the whale horde that heads north are the southern right whales that use the same route to escape the winter. These latter tend to be more comfortable around people and boats despite their low numbers in the east coast of Australia. This journey often leads the whales towards the Great Barrier Reef region where they stay throughout the winter into mid-spring (June to October).
The northern whale migration of east coast Australia often has the water giants moving farther offshore then their southern return. This makes whale spotting from land or close to the shore much easier when they swim south on their return trip. On the Australian east coast, some of the best places of participating in whale spotting include the Gold Coast, Hervey bay, Stradbroke Island, Cape Byron, Sapphire coast, point hicks and storm bay. For those who want to spot them during the northern march, there are whale watch cruises around some of the bays.
The Gold Coast is becoming know as the one of the premier whale watching locations in Australia with whales generally coming within a kilometre or two of the beach off the shore, and because of its geographical location, the Gold Coast has whales passing through all season and it is one of the rare points on the East Coast where, from the middle of August, whale traffic heads in both directions past the Gold Coast.
Hervey bay is also a great spot as most of the humpback whales from the Great Barrier Reef region stopover for a few days on their return trip, providing a wonderful opportunity for whale enthusiasts. Cape Byron also provides a great opportunity since it is at Australia’s easternmost point, and the whales have to go around it on their southern march as they avoid the landmass.
Over the years, whale enthusiasts have developed a love for an all-white humpback male christened Migaloo that means “white fella” in the language of the aborigines of Australia. There is usually an annual sighting tradition and the last confirmed sighting of Migaloo was on Tuesday, October 3, 2011 around in Byron bay.