Our July Saturday morning 4 hour whale watching cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises will circumnavigate Phillip Island.
The sighting of whales is the main interest of the passengers but we know there will be plenty of other great sightings as well.
Fortunately the weather is fine, with a calm Westernport Bay. The sea is a bit choppier along the south coast with the swell around 2 metres, which makes for a few seasickness casualties.
Everyone is on the lookout for a “blow”.
The whale has a blowhole on the top of its head (the humpback has two, one for each lung) so it doesn’t have to get much of its body out of water. When it surfaces to breathe, used air is forcefully expelled from the lungs. This spray of warm air turns to vapour/steam in colder air and is known as the “blow”.Each lung of the humpback whale can be the size of a small car.
As we cruise along our captain points out things of interest and the friendly crew looks after any needs of the passengers.
No whales are sighted in the bay as we make our way to Seal Rocks. Although I have been to the colony several times, this visit is a first with the water seething with 8 month old seal pups. And they are so inquisitive, swimming up close to the Kasey Lee and looking up at the passengers as if to say hello.
Along the south coast a shy albatross follows behind the Kasey Lee, its huge wings sweeping down to tip the water’s surface. The wing-span of the shy albatross is 2.25 metres.
One of their main breeding sites is Albatross Island in Bass Strait. The species is listed as “vulnerable” under the Threatened Species Protection Act so this is a very special sighting.
We are also entertained by gannets diving down to fish.
Common dolphins race alongside us or do their seemingly dangerous manoeuvres under the bow of the Kasey Lee. They seem to love to race the boat!
From the Kasey Lee, The Pinnacles and the rugged coastline of Cape Woolamai, with its granite cliffs and caves, are a whole different perspective of the Phillip Island.
We enjoy a delicious lunch as we cruise under Phillip Island Bridge and pass Newhaven, Churchill Island and Rhyll.
Although the tide is high, the tip of the wreck “Mina” can be seen peeping above the water.
As we haven’t seen any whales we are generously given a 50% discount card for another whale watching cruise.
So a few weeks later we take another whale cruise with Wildlife Coast Cruises, fingers crossed for a whale sighting.
As we cruise along well off the south coast of Phillip Island, word comes through that a humpback whale has been sighted to the west. The Kasey Lee turns around and we are off searching.
Soon enough we see the “blow” followed by the whale’s back gracefully arching out of the water. Law requires that boats stay at least 100 metres from whales so we cruise along at a distance as it travels eastwards.
A fascinating aspect is the whale’s “foot print”. As it moves just below the surface, the whale leaves smooth patches of water that resemble a foot print - which can help in tracking and then waiting for the blow and breaching.
After following for a while we leave the whale to continue its journey to the warmer waters off the Queensland coast, and head back towards Cowes, passengers extremely happy with our sighting.For more information on Wildlife Coast Cruises go to www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au
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