Unlike our resident Bottlenose dolphins, no one can predict when you will see a whale at any particular time or place. However, with our first sightings last week off Boat Harbour and Fingal Bay the whales are well and truly on here. Approximately 18,000 Humpbacks whales will pass Port Stephens in the annual migration.
Here are our top reasons why Port Stephens is the best location for whale watching.
- Whale watching in Port Stephens is conducted in what is the largest Marine Park in New South Wales (98,200 hectares) – The Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.
- Whale Watching season runs for 6 months of the year. It includes the Northern migration from mid-May to August when Humpback Whales migrate to their calving ground in the coral sea. The Southern migration from August to mid-November when the mothers and newborn calves make their way back down to the feeding grounds in Antarctica.
- With over 18,000 Humpback whales are expected to migrate north, chances of seeing these spectacular giants are being extremely high.
- Eight species of whales can be seen in the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park – Humpback whales (30t), Minke whales (9t), Southern Right whales (80t), False killer whales (2.5t), Sei whales (40t), Pilot whales (3.5t), Brydes (pronounced brudus) whales (30t), Fin whales (90t) and Orcas, these 6 to 9t killer whales have been seen in our waters but sightings are rare…
- The whales migrate very close to Port Stephens coastline making whales easier to spot and shortening the travelling time to get to the whales.
- All Whale watching cruises in Port Stephens include a complimentary dolphin watch cruise with three different types of dolphins calling the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park home.
- Whale watching is conducted along a scenic coast line composed of 2 large National Parks, the Tomaree National Park to the South and the Mayall River National Park to the North. Port Stephens with its scenic volcanic headlands and bay twice the size of Sydney harbor and offers awesome views.
- Whale watching in Port Stephens is so good that it can be done from many vantage points along the scenic coast line and Headlands. Some of the best location include Telegraph Point from Boat Harbour, Barry Park at Fingal Bay, Fishermans Bay at Anna Bay as well as the renowned Tomaree Head Summit at Tomaree Headland but of course your best chance to have a great encounter and the closest view is from a whale watch boat.
- Bird watching is ideal during whale watching season, when Gannets congregate in large flocks to feed and the Short tail shear waters come by the thousands to nest on Broughton Island. Its cousin the Fluttering Shearwater is often seen in big flocks hovering over the water. Magnificent albatross like the Yellow-Nose Albatross are commonly seen, on some occasions the Sooty Albatross and a variety of Petrels are sighted. Some are residents of the Park like Wedge Tail eagles and the White Breasted Sea eagles, soaring above the headlands keeping check on the fish below.
Also, mark in your diary for Naturefest which celebrates all things Mother Nature in Port Stephens throughout June. Key highlights included the Whales Season Launch (June 1), Dolphin Census Day (June 5) and the creation of the human Humpback whale at Shoal Bay (July 3).