Posted by: travelrat | April 8, 2011

Whale Watch

Off the Queensland coast: 5th August 2010

‘Migaloo’ is the name of the only known white humpback whale, which was seen in Australian waters some time ago, and still appears from time to time. In the language of Australia’s indigenous people, it simply means ‘White One’ … and I have the greatest admiration for Australian conservationists and marine biologists who didn’t immediately christen it ‘Moby Dick’.

We didn’t see Migaloo, but we did cruise on the boat named after it, the ‘Spirit of Migaloo’, to see some of his friends. ‘Spirit of Migaloo’ is just one of the boats that set out from many places on the Queensland coast to take people out to see the whales. She’s a modern, luxurious catamaran fitted with the latest instrumentation.

‘But we don’t use radar or sonar’ they said ‘It would disturb the whales too much’

So, they rely on experience and know-how … and, probably, messages from a friendly helicopter pilot … to find them, and so confident are they that they offer a refund in the event of not seeing any. However, they do use audio equipment, so that passengers can hear the whale song.

Every Southern winter, that is, from June to November, Southern Humpback whales migrate along the eastern coast of Australia from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds further north, off the coast of tropical Queensland.

When we’re talking about whales, we tend not to measure them in metres, or even feet and inches. In Britain, the usual unit of measurement is London buses; weight is measured in African elephants … an adult humpback whale weighs as much as eleven elephants.

To get a better idea of the size, the triangular sunshade on the upper deck of the ‘Spirit of Migaloo’ is the size and shape of the tail of an adult humpback.

I was expecting a series of splashes and spouts some distance away, but some of them even got close enough to the boat to enable some really good photos or video to be taken … IF you were quick enough.

That’s one of the advantages of digital photography. You can take a ‘machine gun’ approach which, admittedly, results in some shots of blank sea, These can easily be discarded, though in a way that wasn’t possible with film … unless you were VERY rich!

I wasn’t so lucky with the video, though; fortunately, my grand-daughter, Ellie, got some good footage I was able to use, and was kind enough to let me incorporate it into my video … which you’ll see next week.


For more information, see

Yesterday, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd MP was on Twitter, asking anyone who saw his tweet to spread the word that, after the disastrous floods and cyclone, Queensland is ‘open for business’. I hope I’m helping in a small way to do that.


  1. Hi Keith,
    Aren’t Whales beautiful to watch, and they love to came up and check out the boats. The last time I went Whale Watching the boat actually broke down, and believe it or not a calf (baby whale) came right up behind the boat stuck it’s head out of the water and had a good look around, it was a fantastic experience, it was there for quite awhile before it disappeared into the depths.

    Migaloo is really special, as far as anyone knows she is the only white whale, you can see her from miles away, this beautiful white body under the blue ocean, I have never seen her in real life, only on video or TV, but what a sight it would be to see her for real.

    • I don’t think I could ever tire of whale watching … there’s absolutely no sense of ‘been there. done that’ … if I was offered a whale cruise tomorrow, I’d drop everything.

      We saw more whales later on, off Cairns, and we weren’t especially looking for them. But, the Captain slowed the boat, as he’s required to by law, anyway.

  2. Such a majestic animal. I certainly think you’ve done your bit for Queensland tourism. 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: