Sydney Adventure Cruises treated whale watchers to several close encounters with Humpback whales over the weekend.
Cruise Director Annie Skarratt said three Humpback whales, spotted about 15 nautical miles off shore, thrilled whale watchers by coming within meters of the vessel.
“We had three Humpbacks hovering upside down next to the boat on Friday. Their white bellies glowed turquoise through the ultra clear water. We couldn’t believe our eyes!” Annie said.
“It’s very unusual to have four out of five cruises mugged… Our passengers and crew were extremely lucky to see this,” she said.
A whale mugging is a technical term for when whales come close to a boat for a better look. Usually it’s young whales (two or three years old) that are curious and swim up to the vessel for a closer look.
“On Saturday a Humpback was spotted underwater on the starboard side of the vessel. We watched it slowly pass right under Palm Cat. As we moved to the port side to look for it, the Humpback emerged from the depths and breached right next to us!”
“Sunday morning came and we were mugged again. We were also treated to a spy hop off the port bow,” Annie said.
A spy hop is where the whale’s head emerges vertically from the water, enabling it to see the vessel.
“The passengers were thrilled to be so close to the whales – some shared their photos on our Facebook page on Sunday evening,” she said.
Peak whale watching season in Sydney is usually from mid September to mid October as whales return from breeding in Queensland.
Sydney Adventure Cruises adheres to the guidelines put in place by Operation CETUS. This guidelines include that whale watching cruise vessels must keep to a 100 metres distance from a whale and 300 metres if there is a calf in the pod for the safety of the whales and passengers.
Whales are able to approach the vessel – a “mugging” – but the vessels are not able to approach the whales.
More information about Operation CETUS approach guidelines are available here.