Bring an extra jacket, Always!
No matter where you are you will have the added chill factor from the wind. Standing on the bow of the boat with the sea breeze in your hair and a whale right there in the water in front of you is an enthralling feeling. But you will not remember it the same if you are freezing cold!! Generally speaking, the air temperature drops when you are out on the seas so that extra jacket always come in handy.
Will I get seasick?
You either know if you get sea sick or are about to find out! We always say it is best to be safe than sorry and advise taking something to stop the nasty feeling of nausea. There is a range of anti-nausea medication which do the trick. This may prevent you from regretting leaving the harbour.
Have you ever drooled over those amazing breaching-whale-sunset-backdrop-right-next-to-the-boat photographs? This is a millisecond in time captured and then (most of the time) digitally enhanced! Nothing to take away from the photographers but do not expect to see what a telephoto lens can capture. The technology and zoom capabilities of modern cameras are amazing!! Our eyes physically cannot see in that detail! However, what that image doesn’t capture is the sounds, smells, energy and effort to get to that moment. Which you can experience all in one on a tour.
You may not even see anything!
Remember whales are wild animals! And although they migrate in the thousands there is always a chance of a “no whale day”. This can be so defeating but it is mostly out of the operators and crews’ control. Stay positive throughout the trip because you could have the seasons best encounter in the last moments of your tour.
Choose your company wisley.
This goes without saying, not all whale watching companies are on par. Depending on your location you will most likely have a few operators to choose from. Have a look on their websites or even give them a call, keeping an eye out for a few key features. Such as crew, vessel suitability and company values. For example, some operators have crew who have been in the industry for over 20 years or even local Marine Biologists. That is A LOT of experience and knowledge! Keep an eye out for the type of vessel. You want to know that the vessel you are going on is going to be suited to the type of weather you will encounter. If you don’t know – ask! And lastly, company values. Most operators will have a 100% whale sighting guarantee because we know there are moments when, as mentioned above, you just don’t see anything. Some more examples are; Do they have photographers onboard? Are they contributing to science? Do they have strong green values such as eco-tourism certified or carbon neutral? Above all else you want to feel comfortable with your operator, never hesitate to ask or raise concerns.
Choose your location and time of year
There are plenty of locations you can go whale watching in Western Australia. Each location has its benefits so this comes down to the individual. Humpbacks migrate around the most of WA from May to November. Killer Whales aggregate in Bremer Bay from January to April and are sighted occasionally in the North West of WA around July and August. Researchers are gradually discovering more and more about Blue Whales can which be regularly sighted in Geographe Bay in October and November, occasionally around Rottnest in April/May and similarly in the NW of WA. Southern Rights are the other most reliably sighted whale in WA. They can be seen around the south west coast from late May to July.
Suitability for children or infants?
Whale watching can be an incredible experience especially for youngsters! It depends on which tour operator you choose as some will limit ages due to safety. For example, an age restriction is applied for Killer Whales in Bremer Bay due to the nature of the expedition. Children typically take away a lot from the tour especially as they can ask questions to their hearts content! If you are worried about how they will go in rough weather, try choosing a day when conditions are fair. Infants will quite often fall asleep with the gentle rocking of the boat!
Ask your guide as much as possible, no question is too silly.
Not just there to answer your kiddie’s questions! They have a wealth of knowledge especially if you choose a company with experience and expertise i.e. Marine Biologists.
Are the whales better in the morning or afternoon?
As far as the experts can judge, there is no difference in their behaviour from the morning to the afternoon. It is best to speak with your chosen company as they may have particular recommendations but as a general rule – tour time is up to you!
When do they jump?
Ahhh the golden question, when do the whales jump? Depending on the species of whale – some will seldom come out of the water more than their back. However, for the Humpbacks this behaviour is regularly seen. Certainly not every day and you may only get 1 or 2 complete body-out-of-water or you may have a whale breaching 50 times! Plenty of reasons for this behaviour and you will just have to go on a tour to find out more!
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