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.
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.
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.