While ORRCA’s Annual Whale Census over the weekend counted more than 3,700 whales travelling north, a record high, Monday proved to be a special day for whale watchers on the South Coast as well.
A small pod of Brydes Whales were spotted off Tuross Head on Monday while a pod of at least eight Killer Whales were seen between Pambula Beach and Short Point Headland in Merimbula.
A mother and calf came close to shore, with the gathering crowd on the headland and those onboard the local whale watching tour boat getting front row seats.
Tathra Photographer, David Rogers, was on board the boat and took some incredible shots of the orcas.
“Massive thanks to the crew at Sapphire Coastal Adventures for once again getting us the best seats in the house to view these magnificent animals and apex predators of the ocean up close… definitely an experience I’ll never forget,” Rogers said.
Jessica Miller from Sapphire Coastal Adventures was on board the whale watching vessel and told East Coast Radio is was a pretty rare and special occasion.
“We were really lucky thanks to some reports of local people, who spotted the orcas off Pambula Beach, and by the time we got our stuff ready and got out on the water, we caught up with them at the Merimbula Wharf,” Miller said.
“It was such a treat, the orcas that we see, they go up and down the coast maybe once or twice a year and they’re normally spotted somewhere but to have them right in our backyard was very special,” she said.
“The orcas are not that common along this part of the east coast, they do head south to Antartica then follow thehumpback whales north, and this pod was heading in a north to nor-easterly direction.”
While orcas can travel at a top speed of 56km/h they usually travel no further than 65 kilometres in a day, meaning the pod (as of Tuesday morning) are likely to be somewhere off the Eurobodalla coastline, if they continued in that north nor-easterly direction.
“They can of course turn around and go the other way but I expect they would be continuing on north, and if you’re whale watching anywhere north of Merimbula today or over the next few days, I’d be keeping an eye out,” Miller said.
“The orcas have a very large dorsal fin, especially the males, they also have that white patch near their eye, so my advice would be to keep and eye out and grab a pair of binoculars if you think you spot one.”
“We were also lucky to see ‘split-fin’ who is easily identifyable by his split fin as the name would suggest, he’s a large male I sighted off the Sapphire Coast back in 2014 and who a friend of mine spotted off Eden in 2009, so we know he’s at least 15 years-year-old.”
Images: David Rogers / Sapphire Coastal Adventures