Finding mammals in Sydney (Marine mammals)

Humpback whale breaching

Humpback whale breaching

One of the most exciting things that happens off Sydney coast is the Humpback whale migration.

The whales migrate past Sydney from May to November, moving north to give birth and mate in the waters of the Coral Sea off Australia’s northeast coast from May to July; and then returning on a south-bound journey to their Antarctic feeding grounds.

On their way these 40-ton giants engage in a number of observable behaviors such as breaching, spyhopping, tail and pectoral flip slapping, which makes them so interesting to watch.

Pectoral slapping

Pectoral flip slapping

Pectoral fin slapping

Pectoral fin slapping

Humpback whale diving

Humpback whale diving

During one of my days on the ocean, our boat got surrounded by a pod of Pygmy killer whales (Feresa attenuata). These little known species are very rarely seen and their appearance caused a fair amount of excitement. Unfortunately, the sea was quite rough and it was raining – not the best scenario for photography.

Pygmy killer whales

Pygmy killer whales

Pygmy killer whales

Pygmy killer whales

Other whales occasionally seen off Sydney coast are: Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), Minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis), Killer whales (Orcinus orca), Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), Short finned pilot whale  (Globicephala macrorhyncus) and even Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) – the biggest living mammal. And the underwater Brown Mountain about 14 km off shore from Sydney is known to be a Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) feeding site. I haven’t seen any of these species yet, so big hopes for this year. The best tour operator by far is Halicat tours, that venture out further from the shore in search of whales.

Apart from whales, Sydney coastal waters are home to Common Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Common or Short beaked dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Risso dolphin (Grampus griseus ) and Pan Tropical Spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuate), as well as Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) and New Zealand fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri). Though a much better place to see New Zealand fur seals is off course Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Bottle-nosed dolphin

Bottle-nosed dolphin

Bottle-nosed dolphins

Bottle-nosed dolphins

 

 

Share
This entry was posted in Australia and tagged .

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Wildlife watching Sydney | The Wildlife Diaries on October 18, 2014 at 12:43 am

    […] As I headed out on a pelagic wildlife watching trip out of Sydney with Halicat I was really keen to see a new species of whale. Which wasn’t not too much to ask for, given that the only whale species I have seen are Humpbacks, Right whales and a pod of Pygmy Killer Whales. […]

  2. By Sydney pelagic trip » Focusing on Wildlife on November 6, 2014 at 10:02 am

    […] Which wasn’t not too much to ask for, given that the only whale species I have seen are Humpbacks, Right whales and a pod of Pygmy Killer Whales. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*