Whale Watching Tips
Whale watching can be an incredibly humbling experience, and it can also be an incredibly frustrating experience if you’re not seeing them, or seeing them well. To help, we’ve put together our best whale watching tips to help you maximise your chances of seeing a whale at the right time, and also getting the best look at one. Enjoy!
WHALE WATCHING TIP #1: Know your locals.
Southern Right Whales are the most common of the larger whales found in South Australian waters and are mostly black with white bellies and white lumps on their head called callosities.
This picture of two whales shows the callosities on the closest whales head and the white underbelly on the other. Picture taken in the 2014 whale season by Bill Stephens.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #2: Know your whales.
You can identify whale species by observing their distinct features as they move about in the water. Throat grooves, long pectoral fins and white colouration underneath their fins and underbelly are distinctive features of the humpback whale. You can find out more about whale species features and ID click here.
Picture by Bob Brownridge from the 2014 Prints of Whales Photography Competition.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #3: Be prepared.
Have a pair of binoculars in your car – at all times if possible. You never know when a whale will show itself, so be prepared and you’ll reap the rewards. Picture by Fishing SA magazine.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #4: Learn the lingo.
This southern right whale is exhibiting a behaviour called tail lobbing or tail slapping. Whales raise their tail out of the water then slap it down creating a loud sound to communicate with nearby whales and marine life. Photos by Bill Stephens.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #5: Get up high.
When safe to do so, try to get up high. You’ll be able to see more and take better photos. Visit our whale sightings page for a map of the regions top viewing platforms. Picture by Beth Nixon.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #6: Know your compass.
Traveling whales are reported in our sightings log with the direction they are traveling in. So as they say, Never Eat Soggy Weetbix and know which way is which so you can watch that whale. Wow that’s a lot of W’s!! Picture by Wayne Cornish.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #7: Blow your nose.
Well not really, but you may not know that southern right whales have two blow holes, so they blow outwards and at mid height. This is a common feature of a baleen whale. This picture is titled ‘Thar She Blows’ by Beth Nixon who was a finalist in the 2014 Prints of Whales photographic competition.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #8: Be patient.
This happy humpback whale was spotted in 2014 and its spectacular breach was captured on film by Debbie Prestwood, but only after hours of patiently waiting for the action to start. Whales move at their own pace and some are more active than others so be prepared to put in the hours to capture that moment. It’ll be worth the wait!
WHALE WATCHING TIP #9: Know the law.
Personal water craft such as JET SKI’s are prohibited from the Victor Harbor Restricted Zone during the whale season – 1 May through to 30 September 2015. All other vessels may not go within 300m of a whale at any time. Hefty fines apply so make sure you know your limits, visit our whale sighting page for further info.
WHALE WATCHING TIP #10: Hot cinnamon doughnuts.
Get these hot tasty treats into your belly before you hit the whale trail. Need we say more? Picture by Stacey Richardson.