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Island Hopper, Issue #071,, How Do Whales Sleep
June 19, 2024

June/July/August 2024: Issue #071


Welcome to Island Hopper! I hope you will discover lots about Phillip Island and the surrounding area.

How Do Whales Sleep?

Whales sleep by “turning off” one half of their brain to rest while the other half remains alert. This is because as air-breathing creatures that live in the ocean, whales have adapted to be voluntary breathers, which means they consciously control their blowholes. Because whales must maintain awareness to breathe, they “turn off” half of their brain to rest while the other half stays alert to prompt their next breath. In this state of half-consciousness, some whales will swim slowly while others will rest motionless along the surface.

Others, like sleeping sperm whales, will float vertically in groups just under the surface to enter a deeper rest.

(Source: US Marine Mammal Center)

The annual whale migration from the Antarctic to the warmer waters off northern Australia has begun with whales, mostly humpbacks, seen passing Phillip Island.

The best spots to whale watch on Phillip Island are The Nobbies, Pyramid Rock and Cape Woolamai.

Easier to see when the seas are calm, watch for the distinctive “blow”. A whale’s blowhole is basically a nostril and is located on the top of the head. While under water, a whale is holding its breath. When it surfaces and lets out its breath, air is forcefully expelled. When the warm air contacts the cold air outside, it turns to the mist that we can see.

A whale does not expel water, which is a common misconception.

Get a copy of the Bass Coast Shire Council Whale Trail brochure to discover more about whales and whale watching.

For closer whale encounters, Wildlife Coast Cruises has daily 4-hour whale watching cruises departing from Rhyll Jetty which circumnavigate Phillip Island.

Apart from whale sightings (never guaranteed), there can be dolphin and albatross seen from the boat.

Sometimes passengers in the daily Seal Rocks Cruise have also been lucky enough to have whale sightings!

The annual Whale Festival takes place from Friday July 5 to Sunday July 7. This year the festival hub will be at Berninneit on Thompson Avenue, Cowes, Phillip Island.

There are many whale-related activities including talks, Ocean Film Festival, workshops, craft activities, stalls and much more.

Make sure you add the festival to your Phillip Island school holidays program!

Click here for the full Whale Festival program


How exciting it was to have the Aurora Australis visible in mid-May! And how lucky for Phillip Islanders to have front row seats to the spectacle!

We watched the changing display from the end of Gap Road, near “Siberia Corner” of Phillip Island Circuit.

Having seen the Aurora Borealis, we have been keen for many years to see the lights in our own back yard.

For several years we have received email alerts when there has been higher than normal sunspot activity but never seem to be in the right place at the right time.

If you are interested in receiving alerts for future Aurora Australis sightings, check out the internet for relevant apps or social media groups.

Aurora Australis from Gap Road, Phillip Island

In June we have a couple of other significant events.

Firstly, the winter solstice will occur on Friday June 21 at 6.50am AEST. This is the exact moment the southern hemisphere is at its furthest tilt from the Sun, so that day will have the least amount of sunlight.

The good news is that from Friday the days are “longer”, that is, we will receive more sunlight with each day until the Summer Solstice on December 21.

For those who like to rise early, on June 30 and into early July, there is a Parade of Planets when Saturn, the Moon, Mars and Jupiter will be close together in the eastern morning sky.

Phillip Island Festival of Stories

The Phillip Island Festival of Stories returns from August 2 until August 4.

To be held at Berninneit in Thompson Avenue, Cowes, there is an exciting line-up of presenters.

Rosalie Ham, author of The Dressmaker, and Sue Maslin, film director, will speak on the making of the film.

Well-known award-winning journalist Kerry O’Brien will speak on his life in journalism.

Other presenters include author and broadcaster Jacinta Parsons, author and radio host Wendy Harmer, former Australian of the Year and family violence advocate Rosie Batty, playwright and screenwriter Hannie Rayson, and authors Robyn Davidson and Rachelle Unreich.

Go to the festival website for more program announcements closer to the festival date and for ticket sales.

Phillip Island Nature Parks Winter Update

What’s happening in nature on Phillip Island during winter?

Find out what the whales, penguins, seals and echidnas are up to in the colder months and which birds you are likely to see in the Phillip Island skies.

Click for Phillip Island Nature Parks Winter Update

June 22 – Market on Church

June 23 & 30 - Cowes Sunday Market

June 29/30 – Victorian State Circuit Racing Championship 2024

July 5/7 – Island Whale Festival

July 6 – Churchill Island Farmers Market

July 7, 14, 21 & 28 – Cowes Sunday Market

July 13 – Island Craft Market

July 20 – Newhaven Market

July 27 – Market on Church

August 2/4 – Phillip Island Festival of Stories

August 3 – Churchill Island Farmers Market

August 4, 11, 18 & 25 – Cowes Sunday Market

August 10 – Island Craft Market

August 17 – Newhaven Market

August 23/25 – Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS

August 24 – Market on Church

Phillip Island Events

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you think!

See you next time!


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