'Absolutely incredible start' to whale watching season

'Absolutely incredible start' to whale watching season

National News
A humpback whale breaching just outside Twofold Bay. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises.

A humpback whale breaching just outside Twofold Bay. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises.

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The start to the whale watching season on the NSW Far South Coast has been truly remarkable.

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The start to the whale watching season on the NSW Far South Coast has been truly remarkable, as enormous numbers of whales stop to feed on their southern migration.

Cat Balou Cruises operator Lana Wills said, "This has been an absolutely incredible start to the season, like nothing I've ever seen before."

"The amount of whales has been spectacular and we have been able to see such a range of behaviours from so many different whales," Ms Wills said.

Ms Wills said it's now known this stretch of coast is one of only a few places whales feed on their migration path each year.

"The feeding has really been a sight to see. We have been so excited and very lucky to witness bubble net feeding - this is behaviour which is really common in Antarctica while whales feed in the summer months," she said.

"I thought I would have go to Antarctica to see that!"

Lateral lunge feeding, where the whales move across the surface of the water with their mouths open. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

Lateral lunge feeding, where the whales move across the surface of the water with their mouths open. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

Cat Balou operators Brad and Lana sent images they captured of the whales feeding to a marine biologist who studies humpback whales, who then verified the bubble net feeding, leading the tour operators to excitedly confirm this as the first time the behaviour has been recorded off the East Coast of Australia.

"We usually see lateral lunge feeding, where the whales move across the surface of the water with their mouths open," Ms Wills said.

Cat Balou Cruises said bubble net feeding has not been recorded before off the East Coast of Australia. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

Cat Balou Cruises said bubble net feeding has not been recorded before off the East Coast of Australia. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

A 'mega' pod of humpback whales was another phenomenon observed along the coast this week and at times Cat Balou was surrounded by whales in every direction, as far as the eye could see.

"It's actually almost like a sensory overload, it's very overwhelming, there is so much movement in the water from the whales and it's difficult to know where to look.

"Also, the sound of the whales blowing all around you is quite loud, and the odour in the air... whales actually have quite smelly breath.

"You find yourself constantly looking all around, it can be quite overwhelming with so much going on, at times it's hard to focus and take it all in," Ms Wills said.

A small section of the mega pod sighted earlier this week. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises.

A small section of the mega pod sighted earlier this week. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises.

COVID restrictions have seen the operators reduce bookings on each cruise to about half their usual capacity, but they will be increasing to two cruises per day from this weekend and will continue to take people out on the water until about the second week of November.

"We are excited to take more people out there to see these wonderful creatures," Ms Wills said.

"Hopefully the school holidays will bring more people to this stretch of coast, and they might fall in love it with like we have and return every year."

Bookings can be made via the Cat Balou Cruises website.

Cat Balou will run twice-daily cruises out of Eden until mid-November. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

Cat Balou will run twice-daily cruises out of Eden until mid-November. Photo: Cat Balou Cruises

The story 'Absolutely incredible start' to whale watching season first appeared on Bega District News.

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