More than 30,000 whales are expected to journey along the NSW coastline this year, and one of the best places to catch a glimpse is the Shoalhaven’s very own Jervis Bay.
Migrating humpback whales and southern right whales have been spotted in Jervis Bay over the past few weeks, as the whale watching season gets underway.
Whales head north throughout May, June and July and return southwards from around September to November.
Jervis Bay rates as one of the best places to see these gentle giants of the ocean, and so far more than 65 have been spotted in the area by whale watching crews.
Dolphin Watch Cruises manager Sam Tooley said it was common to see groups of whales migrating north together.
“It’s not unusual to see mothers with an escort, like an adolescent whale, joining up with other groups of three or so whales,” he said.
The migration period can be very tiring for both mothers and their calves and they often need to stop and have a rest along the way according to Mr Tooley.
“Whales inherit habits from their mothers and they will often stop in a certain spot if their mother has brought them to that place previously,” Mr Tooley said
“There have been records of the same whales coming back to Jervis Bay with their calves and staying for a few hours or sometimes a few days.”
In the past week a pod of 10 humpback whales was spotted off Steamers head.
Mr Tooley said 20 years ago it was uncommon to see more than four whales at a time, but as the whale population has increased, sightings are more frequent.
“Whale numbers increase by about 10 per cent per annum, and that’s a great sign, now we see between four and 10 whales on each cruise” he said.
“While we see humpbacks most frequently down here, we also see southern rights and minke whales,” he said.
Whales thrive in clean, clear waters and Mr Tooley said the waters of the South Coast perfectly suited the gentle giants.
“We’ve got crystal clear waters here that everyone works hard to maintain, which is full of food for all marine life,” he said.
Shoalhaven residents have some of the best on-land vantage points for whale watching, like Bull Hole Lookout, Hammerhead Point picnic area, Greenfield Beach picnic area and Seven Mile Beach National Park, but Mr Tooley said there was nothing better than getting up close and personal with the sea creatures.
“There’s a lot of activity at the moment and sometimes, if you’re luck enough, you might have whales coming right up to the boat or swimming underneath,” he said.