It's always a wonderful time to visit the Great Barrier Reef but with humpback and minke whale sightings, it just gets a little bit more special at this time of year! Whale season is now underway and lucky passengers and crew aboard Great Adventures had the privilege to see the first humpbacks sighting in our area.
Reef Adventures’ skipper, Amanda Matthies, stopped the vessel while two whales, believed to be a mother and calf, played in about seven metres of water as the vessel departed Cairns for Green Island.
Their smaller cousins, the dwarfe minke whales have also arrived with sightings at the Agincourt ribbon reefs, delighting passengers and crew aboard our Port Douglas based dive and snorkel vessels, Silversonic and Poseidon. Both of these vessels have permits to swim with these inquisitive animals if encountered. While never guaranteed, from our experience, July to September is the peak season to see minkes as they frequent the Agincourt ribbon reefs.
Humpbacks are generally seen on the Great Barrier Reef between the months of June to September with regular sightings at the Outer Reefs, bringing an added bonus for passengers at this time.
Humpback whales regularly migrate from Antarctic waters along the east coast of Australia every winter to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef to breed and calve. They are easily identified by having extremely large pectoral fins (their scientific name is Megaptera, which literally means giant wing), and scalloped flukes. They grow up to approximately 16 metres in length, weighing in at 30-50 tonnes. Male humpbacks produce “songs”, which are believed to attract females at mating times.