Category Archives: Blog

Traveler’s Choice Award: Celebrating 4 Consecutive Years of Excellence

We are thrilled to announce that Wild Ocean Tasmania has been honoured with the prestigious Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award for 2024. This marks the fourth consecutive year that we have received this esteemed recognition. We couldn’t be more grateful to our passengers whose glowing reviews have made this possible.

Operating in one of Australia’s marine hotspots, we are privileged to showcase some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery while promoting awareness of marine conservation. Each journey with us is not just a tour but a meaningful exploration of our planet’s fragile marine ecosystems.

We are driven by a deep commitment to nature and ocean conservation. Our mission goes beyond providing exceptional boat tours: Our vessel serves as a platform for marine research.

We extend our heartfelt Thank You!

Receiving the Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award for the fourth year in a row is a testament to the dedication of our team and the support of our passengers. It motivates us to continue our efforts in promoting responsible tourism and environmental stewardship.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has joined us on this incredible journey and shared their experiences. Your feedback inspires us to strive for excellence every day.

Thank you for your continued support!

We will be back after our winter break

Every year in winter, we pull our RIB out of the water for routine maintenance work. Our business will be closed between July and mid September.

If you would like to book a tour with us for the coming season, please check our live booking system for available time slots from end of September 2024.

For those of you who are keen to see the Humpback Whales on their way down from their breeding grounds, October to November is the best time of year to see them along Tasmania’s coastline.

Become a citizen scientist and help with Humpback Whale research!

Would you like to be involved in marine conservation projects but you don’t have a university degree?

In today’s technologically advanced world, the opportunities to make a meaningful impact on our planet have expanded far beyond the confines of traditional scientific roles. You no longer need a lab coat or a degree in marine biology to contribute to the health of our oceans and the creatures that call them home.

Gone are the days when scientific research was solely reserved for experts in the field. Now, everyday individuals can play a vital role in advancing our understanding of marine ecosystems.

How you can contribute to Humpback Whale research and conservation

Photo of the flukes of a Humpback Whale in Tasmania which can be uploaded to the online database Happywhale.

Travel to your favourite coastal destinations along the Humpback Highway, armed not with a microscope or a notepad, but with a camera. That’s all you need to contribute to Humpback Whale research through platforms like Happywhale – a website that serves as a global database, pooling together fluke identification photos submitted by citizen scientists just like you from around the world.

The concept is simple yet powerful: by capturing photos of Humpback Whale flukes (the underside of their tails), which bear unique identifiers akin to fingerprints, you can help scientists track individual whales and monitor their migrations and behaviours. Every fluke photo you capture adds another piece to the puzzle of Humpback Whale conservation.

Help us expand our Tasmanian Whale dataset

In 2020, we started logging our Humpback Whale sightings through the Happywhale database. Every time we spotted a Humpback Whale on our trips that showed its flukes and we were able to take a high resolution photograph, we uploaded it to the website. It can be a lot of fun, when the algorithm shows you that it’s a ‘new’ animal to the database or when the whale has been sighted previously. The website gives you some interesting information including the year and location where it showed up previously.

As a tourist and passenger on a wildlife watching tour, you can do the same: Simply sign up on the Happywhale website and start uploading your fluke images. Ideally, you will upload the location/coordinates and time of the whale sighting along with your photos. If you are not sure about the location, just ask your skipper or crew onboard the vessel and they will be able to give you the coordinates from their onboard GPS.

If you are just curious to see where Humpback Whales have been sighted recently, you can search the website for certain locations or organisations that are contributing to the database. Below is a screenshot of the Wild Ocean Tasmania Whale sightings on the Happywhale website. Our tour covers the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula which is considered a hotspot for marine mammal sightings in Tasmania.

Screenshot of whale sightings along the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula on the Happywhale database.

When is the best time of year to see Humpback Whales in Tasmania you ask?

The time we start seeing whales along our coastline varies from season to season. After all, we are dealing with wild animals. Their migration patterns are influenced by a number of factors including the water temperatures, food availability, reproductive cycles, weather patterns and ocean currents. As a rule of thumb, a good time to see Humpback Whales in Tasmanian waters is between the months of June and July and October and November. Sometimes we see whales migrate past our shores much earlier and sometimes they extend their migration into December and even early January. If you’d like to spot a Whale, you need three things: a bit of luck, a positive spirit and patience.

Book your tour through our online booking system!

Book Now

And keep an eye out when you travel along the coast, you might even spot a blow from your car window!

Tasmania has some fantastic lookout platforms as well. On the Tasman Peninsula, we recommend checking out the Blowhole lookout, Tasman Arch and Remarkable Caves. If you enjoy a walk in the National Park, you will get rewarded with a mesmerising view at Waterfall Bluff, Cape Hauy and Cape Raoul.

Learn more about Humpback Whale research through the Tasmanian Fluke Project.

Whale Feeding Frenzy & Bioluminescent Sea Magic

And just like that, the first two months of the season have passed. We’ve had some incredible days filled with wildlife encounters, from whales to seals and sea birds along the rugged backdrop of the Tasman National Park. As one of our passengers says: ‘A little bit wild and a whole lot jaw-dropping’ (Narinda S. on Tripadvisor).

Whale mass feeding event on 4th October

Well over hundred Humpback Whales came together to feed within a 1km radius just out of Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula in October 2023.

Looking back at the last two months, two days really stood out. One was the mass feeding of well over hundred Humpback Whales not far off the coast of Eaglehawk Neck. The groups of whales were tight and they literally gorged themselves on krill that accumulated in the area. This was truely a once in a life-time experience for all passengers onboard.

We spoke to whale researcher Dr. Olaf Meynecke who is the Manager of the Whales and Climate Program about the mass feeding event:

“Mass feeding events of humpback whales have been reported from a number of places in recent years. Humpback whales in general either feed on fish or krill solitary or in small groups of a few individuals. Having hundreds of humpback whales feeding closely together is not only very unusual but also a sign of change. Very likely an adaptation to deal with food shortages in traditional feeding grounds and taking the opportunity to share high density of food with a larger group of whales.

We are yet to understand the reasons behind this change in feeding patterns but we already know that it will need to be included in future conservation efforts. The recent event in Tasmania is likely one of the largest feeding aggregations of humpback whales we have been able to witness.”

Bioluminescence or sea sparkle in Pirates Bay

Bioluminescent sea sparkle in Pirates Bay, captured by Dolly Sun and Chaboo Wang @followustotassie. Note the pink hue in the ocean behind the waves.

Bioluminescent sea sparkle is a captivating natural phenomenon found in the open ocean, where certain types of marine organisms produce light through a chemical reaction within their bodies. This phenomenon primarily involves tiny, single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates and other bioluminescent creatures like some jellyfish, plankton, and certain species of fish. At night, these dinoflagellates emit a mesmerising blue-green light when they are disturbed or agitated.

Dinoflagellate bloom or ‘red tide’ during the day on our boat tour.

‘How to find the sea sparkle’ you may ask?

During the day, you may spot an unusual pink hue in the ocean. That is a good indicator of certain species of algae accumulating in high concentrations in the water. These algal blooms can discolour the water, often giving it a reddish or brownish tint. The recent algae bloom in November was pretty major as you can see in these images.

Dinoflagellate algae accumulating in the caves along the Tasman National Park in November 2023.

Environmental impact

While some red tides are harmless, others can produce toxins harmful to marine life and humans. Certain species of algae involved in red tides can release toxins into the water, which can have detrimental effects on fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds. These toxins, when accumulated in shellfish, can cause illness or even death if consumed by humans.

Red tides can occur naturally due to various factors, including favourable environmental conditions such as warm water temperatures, sunlight, and nutrient-rich waters. However, human activities, such as nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff or other sources, can exacerbate and contribute to the frequency and intensity of these algal blooms.

Would you like to learn more about these natural phenomenons and see some Tasmanian marine life in their natural environment? Head over to our online booking platform and reserve your seat!

WOT voted into the top 10% of attractions worldwide, 3rd year in a row

Wild Ocean Tasmania recognised as Tripadvisor® 2023 Traveler’s Choice Award winner

We’ve popped back up from our winter break and started the new season celebrating some fantastic news:

Wild Ocean Tasmania has been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2023 Travelers’ Choice award winner. The coveted award celebrates businesses that have consistently received great traveler reviews on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months, placing these winners among the 10% of all listings on Tripadvisor globally.

“Congratulations to the 2023 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice winners. The travel resurgence we’ve seen throughout the past year has even further heightened the competition. Earning a Travelers’ Choice Award demonstrates that you have provided great experiences to those who matter most: your guests. With changing expectations, continued labor shortages, and rising costs, this is no easy feat, and I am continually impressed with the hospitality industry’s resilience and ability to adapt. Cheers to another successful year!”

John Boris, Chief Growth Officer at Tripadvisor.

We’re extremely grateful to have been honoured with this award for three consecutive years now. At Wild Ocean Tasmania, our foremost commitment is to ensure customer satisfaction while safeguarding the well-being of our oceans and wildlife. Our tours are designed with these twin priorities at the heart of everything we do.

A huge thank you to our guests who choose to travel with a purpose

THANK YOU to our lovely passengers who have left a review for our small business on Tripadvisor!

We are always amazed by the kind hearted people who choose to travel with a purpose and spend time and effort to dig a bit deeper to search for ethical wildlife and wilderness experiences. You not only give us the chance to operate our small business, you are also a big contributor to our wildlife conservation efforts.

Last season we were able to support a number of projects, including:

  • the Tasmanian Fluke Project in collaboration with Dr. Maddie (a Humpback Whale database for the southeast coast of Tasmania)
  • Video & photo evidence of Humpback Whale and kelp interactions for Sydney based whale researcher Dr. Olaf
  • Supply of content for numerous environmental organisations and their campaigns.

You can read more about our nature and wildlife conservation efforts here.

About Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform*, helps hundreds of millions of people each month** become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip.

Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before. With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

The subsidiaries of Tripadvisor, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRIP), own and operate a portfolio of travel media brands and businesses, operating under various websites and apps.

*  Source: SimilarWeb, unique users de-duplicated monthly, March 2023

** Source: Tripadvisor internal log files

To see what other boat tour passengers had to say about their trip with Wild Ocean Tasmania, follow this link.

Kicking off the season with sunshine, whales & other wildlife

Smiley the Humpback Whale is back!

Welcoming a new season and old mates

As we step into another boating season, we’re thrilled to share the wonders of the Tasmanian waters with you. The sun is shining, and the ocean is teeming with life once again. This weekend, we operated the first tours of the season and had some amazing wildlife encounters already.

The Return of a Friend

For those who’ve followed our maritime adventures, you’ll recall the captivating tale of ‘Smiley’ the Humpback Whale. We first encountered ‘Smiley’ in 2021. This extraordinary whale, named for the distinctive smiley face mark on its fluke, stayed with us for an impressive 87 days, from April 5th to July 1st.

Having data of whales that stay a significant amount of time in the waters off the east coast of Tasmania can be valuable for scientists and ultimately for the preservation of this special place.

‘Smiley’ seems to share our enthusiasm for this beautiful region. In 2022, we’ve been graced by ‘Smiley’s’ presence once more. On May 29th, and again on June 4th, we had the privilege of spotting this inquisitive and fluke-happy whale on our cruises.

This year, ‘Smiley’ popped up on our first tour of the season on Friday, together with a friend, and again on both of our Saturday trips. It’ll be interesting to see how long ‘Smiley’ decides to stay in the area this year.

Coastal waters teeming with wildlife

Common Dolphins playing alongside migrating Humpback Whales.

In addition to our heartwarming encounters with ‘Smiley’ and the other Humpback Whales, we were privileged to witness the joyful company of around 100 Common Dolphins, gracefully playing in the waters alongside their whale companions. It was awesome to see how they interacted. The dolphins seemed as excited as we were to welcome back the majestic Humpback Whales.

The skies above were graced by soaring albatrosses and terns feeding on fish. And, of course, our beloved resident seals added their charming presence to complete the scene.

Nature’s grand performance is in full swing, and we can’t wait to share these moments with you on our boat tours.

Book Now

What is the best time of year to book a boat tour in Tasmania?

A Long-nosed Fur Seal at the colony on the Tasman Peninsula, southern Tasmania.

Don’t miss out on the magic: The best time of year to book a boat tour in Tasmania

Ahoy there! If you are looking to book a boat tour in Tasmania but can’t decide when to go, fear not! We’ve got you covered.

Firstly, let us just say that any time of year is special out on the water in Tasmania. Whether you’re cruising through calm seas on a sunny summer day or rugged up in a warm jacket watching the waves crash against the shore in the cooler months, there’s always something magical about being out on the open water.

But if you’re looking for some specific wildlife sightings or experiences, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Fur Seals

Seals can be guaranteed year round, so if you’re keen to see these cute critters lounging on the rocks or splashing around in the water, you’re in luck no matter when you book your tour.

If you’re after some particularly adorable seal action, November to December is breeding season, and pups are the most active from March to June. So if you want to catch some seal babies playing and learning to swim, those are the months to aim for.

A breaching Humpback Whale during its migration along the Tasmanian coast.

Humpback Whales

Humpback Whales migrate north from Antarctica to their warmer breeding grounds along the Tasmanian coast from May to July and south from September to December. Southern Right Whales can be sighted with a bit of luck between June and November. So if you’re keen to witness these majestic creatures breaching and tail slapping, plan your tour accordingly.

Killer Whales and other rare whale species like Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Sei Whales and Minke Whales can pop up throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled for these elusive creatures. And if you’re lucky enough to spot them, make sure to snap some photos to show off to your jealous friends back home.

Bottlenose Dolphins putting on a show off the coast of the Tasman Peninsula.

Dolphins, sea birds & world class scenery

Let’s not forget about the dolphins and sea birds. Dolphins are always a thrill to watch as they play and swim alongside the boat, and Tasmania is home to a variety of sea bird species, like albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels. Keep your eyes on the skies and you might just spot one of these magnificent creatures soaring overhead.

But it’s not just about the wildlife – there’s some world-class scenery to explore as well. The caves and huge dolerite columns along the coast are truly awe-inspiring, and a boat tour is the perfect way to experience them up close.

A special appearance of a Royal Albatross, one of the largest birds in the world.

Book a boat tour in summer, autumn, winter or spring

So, to sum it up, there’s really no wrong time of year to book a boat tour in Tasmania. The southern coast is always stunning, the wildlife is plentiful and the natural features are awe-inspiring. Whether you’re visiting in summer, autumn, winter, or spring, you’re guaranteed a magical day out on the water.

But if you do have specific wildlife sightings or experiences in mind, be sure to plan your tour accordingly. Whether you’re after seal pups, migrating whales, or sea birds, there’s a time of year that’s just right for you.

So what are you waiting for? Book your boat tour today and experience the magic of Tasmania’s southern coast for yourself.

Special tip #1: If you prefer to leave your camera at home and enjoy the ride without worrying about taking photos yourself, you can purchase ocean wildlife imagery from our skipper on his photography website.

Special tip #2: The bright red sunsets in winter after our afternoon tours are incredible and make the perfect photo opportunities at the Pirates Bay jetty.

Rare Blue Whale – How is the size of this majestic creature!

A Blue Whale with the iconic Candlestick at Cape Hauy in the background.

A huge Blue Whale cruised south along this coastline yesterday

We often have the opportunity to see incredible marine wildlife in the coastal waters of Tasmania. However, one recent sighting stands out among the rest – a rare Blue Whale!

Now, if you’re not up on your marine biology, Blue Whales are seriously massive. David Attenborough would be talking about how they can grow up to 100 feet in length and weigh as much as 200(!) tons. Yes, you read that right: Two. Hundred. Tons.

I’ll never forget listening to him talk about the Blue Whale’s anatomy in one of his documentaries:

“The heart of the blue whale is the size of a small car, and its tongue alone can weigh as much as an elephant.”

It’s hard to wrap your head around just how massive these animals are. Their blows can reach a height of 9 to 12 meters.

We captured a nice blow yesterday in the image below. The island in the background is the Hippolyte Rock which is 65 meters tall.

The tall blow of a Blue Whale as it swims along the Tasman Peninsula coastline with the Hippolyte Rock in the background.

Where can Blue Whales be found around Australia?

Blue Whales can be found in all of the world’s oceans, but in Australia, they tend to hang out in the deep waters off the southern and western coasts, especially during the summer months. Blue Whales are known to feed on krill in the Southern Ocean, and this food source can sometimes bring them closer to shore.

Did you know that Blue Whales are an endangered species? They face a number of threats, including accidental entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, noise pollution, overfishing and climate change, which is altering ocean temperatures and currents. This can affect the distribution and abundance of the krill that Blue Whales depend on for food.

Blue Whales have a tiny dorsal fin compared to their huge body.

Blue Whale Research

There is ongoing research about Blue Whales, for example in the waters south of Victoria. This area is known to be an important feeding ground for Blue Whales during the summer months, and researchers are working to better understand the movements and behaviours of these animals in this region.

One ongoing study is being conducted by the Blue Whale Study, a research organization based in Victoria. The study uses a combination of visual surveys, acoustic monitoring, and satellite tagging to track the movements of Blue Whales in the area and gather data on their feeding habits and population size. This research is important for improving our understanding of these animals and informing conservation efforts to protect them.

A Blue Whale heading towards the coast at O’Hara Bluff near Eaglehawk Neck.

Seeing a Blue Whale in the wild is seriously a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we feel very lucky that we had several opportunities over the last few years to share something so special with our guests.

If you are interested in reading more about previous Blue Whale sightings in this area, check out our other blog posts:

Amazing Weekend Surprise – A Blue Whale!

Blue Whales feeding next to our boat

We hope that our guests appreciate the beauty and importance of the marine environment, and that we can all work together to protect it for future generations.

If you would like to join one of our tours, check our live booking system for available time slots.

We look forward to having you onboard!

Orca attacks a baby Dolphin off Eaglehawk Neck

This Orca charges towards our boat as the Dolphin calf tries to get away from its predator.

Witnessing Killer Whales predate on a Bottlenose Dolphin calf

The passengers of two of our Scenic Tours had a once in a lifetime experience on Saturday when we witnessed a pod of Orcas hunt and kill a Bottlenose Dolphin calf. We’ve been collaborating with researchers from Killer Whales Australia since we started our boat tour business in 2014 and we have been waiting to capture a moment like this for years! It’s like watching a wildlife documentary unfold right in front of your eyes!

Orca herds the baby dolphin & pushes it out to sea

An Orca popped up beside our vessel, getting ready for the attack on the Dolphin calf.

It all started with a big splash that our skipper spotted on the first tour on Saturday morning. We’re in the middle of the Humpback Whale migration and everyone on board was keen to find some active whales. As we headed in the direction where the splash was spotted, we came across a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. Usually, Bottlenose Dolphins are extremely playful creatures and tend to charge towards our boat to play in the wake. This time, they behaved differently. The Dolphins seemed to have split into several smaller groups heading in different directions. It was obvious that something was going on and within seconds we spotted the large black dorsal fin of an Orca.

This photo shows the Orca rounding up the tiny baby Dolphin (to the left of its dorsal fin).

We are still waiting for the researchers from Killer Whales Australia to confirm this, but it was likely a female Orca who separated a Dolphin calf from the pod, herded it and made it swim further out to sea. We watched the brutal attacks from the Orca, charging at the helpless little Dolphin calf, pushing it and grabbing it by its pectoral flipper.

The baby Dolphin tried hard to get away from its predator, even swam towards our boat several times to seek cover. It appeared that the Orca just wanted to let the dolphin calf wear itself out.

Orca charging at the Dolphin calf upside down.
The Killer Whales grabs the baby Dolphin by its pectoral flipper as it tries to escape.

Will we find the Killer Whales again on our 2nd trip?

It was hard to leave the scene, but we had already extended our trip by 50 minutes and we had the next group of people waiting at the pier, eager to get out on the water as well. So we headed back to the pier to swap groups. Everyone knew it was a very slim chance to find the Orcas again as about an hour would have passed by the time we got back out to the area where we expected the Orcas to be. We called some recreational fishermen on the way out, but no-one had seen the Killer Whales. As we approached the area where we would expect the Orcas, we slowed down to scan the surroundings and there was certainly a lot of luck involved when the huge dorsal fin of a male Orca appeared.

Two Killer Whales side by side.

Not long after, we saw the baby Dolphin floating on the surface. One of the Orcas grabbed it again and it was super sad to watch the little dolphin die. At the same time it was a very humbling experience for everyone on board to be there at the right time when those incredible apex predators made a successful kill. The Orcas then popped up again with open flesh in their mouths which proves that the dolphin was killed to feed on and not just for play. This is valuable data for the researchers. Over the last few years we have been supporting a PHD candidate who is looking into the diet of Killer Whales in South East Australian waters. You can check out this blog post to find out more about the research that has been done off the Tasman Peninsula.

Winner of the Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award

We won the Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award again!

Who would have thought that our tiny business would win the Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award two years in a row?! Apparently we’re in the top 10% of attractions world wide!

We’re sending a BIG thank you to all those lovely people who have joined our tours and chose to support a small business over major tour operators.

What a great surprise at the end of our 21/22 season!

Words from Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor

Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Award winners. The Traveler’s Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests. Ranking among the Traveler’s Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Wether it’s using new technology, implementing safety ,measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.

Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor

And that’s a wrap

We’ll be operating our last trip on Tuesday, the 5th July, before we close our business over winter to have a little break ourselves and to do some routine maintenance work on our vessel.

Thanks again to everyone who joined our tours. It’s been another fantastic season and we can’t wait to start the new season at the end of September. This coincides with the Humpback Whale migration south. As a reminder: the best time to see Humpback Whales in Tasmania is between end of September and end of November.

Our online booking system will be up to date with available sessions for the new season. You can also reach us via our contact form, if you have any questions prior to booking a tour with us.

Happy days!

Whale re-sights prove to be valuable data for research projects

‘Smiley’ the Humpback Whale is easily identified by a marking on its right fluke that looks like a smiley face. 🙂

‘Smiley’ the Humpback Whale is back

Remember ‘Smiley’ the Humpback Whale? This whale was first logged on the 5th April last year and became a good friend to us. Smiley decided to stay in the area for 87 days last year, with the last sighting recorded on 1st July. This whale is also quite inquisitive and flukes a lot, which makes the tracking relatively easy.

We sighted ‘Smiley’ again last Sunday, the 29th May, on our afternoon cruise and a second time on Saturday, the 4th June. It’ll be interesting to see if ‘Smiley’ decides to stay in this area again for a longer period of time. We’re only in our second year of the Tasmanian Fluke Project and it already offers invaluable data to demonstrate the importance of Tasmania to the East Australian Humpback Whales.

A Humpback Whale’s tail before a deep dive.

Feeding Humpback Whales

The Humpback Whale migration North is in full swing and we’re seeing whales on most of our trips. Nothing in nature is ever guaranteed, but now is a good time to get out on a boat tour and chance it. It is estimated that less than 1% of people living on planet Earth will see a whale in their lifetime. Therefore, any time you see a whale, even one whale, you are truly privileged.

This weekend our passengers got treated to an even rarer occurrence. Not many people would ever get to watch Humpback Whales feed, as their main feeding grounds are located in the cold waters of Antarctica. However, feeding behaviour can sometimes be seen in the Tasman Sea as well. In fact, during their southern migration in 2020, supergroups of Humpback Whales have been observed feeding all along the south east coast of Australia. It’s impressive watching these animals open up their big mouths to scoop up their prey.

A Humpback Whale lunge feeding off the coast of the Tasman Peninsula near Eaglehawk Neck.

Different feeding behaviours can be observed:

Lunge feeding

Lunge feeding is a behaviour during which a whale consumes a large quantity of prey and water after a high-speed horizontal or vertical propulsion, followed then by the removal of water through closed-mouth filtration.

Echelon feeding

Echelon feeding involves two or more cetaceans swimming in a “V” formation. One whale is typically in front and another is off to the side and slightly behind the first. This method may help funnel missed prey into the whale following behind.

Bubble-net feeding

Bubble-net feeding is a method where the whales release nets or curtains of bubbles from their blowholes around a school of fish or krill in an attempt to move their prey into a smaller area. When the bubble net is finished, encircling the prey, the whales swim up through the circle of bubbles with their mouths open and swallow the prey.

Flick feeding

Flick feeding is a method where a whale sits near the surface and slaps its tail on the surface of the water. This behavior likely concentrates krill and other small prey in front of the whale. The whale then swims quickly through the area capturing the concentrated prey.

A Humpback Whale bubble-net feeding off the Tasman Peninsula near Eaglehawk Neck.

We’re expecting to see Humpback Whales regularly on our trips until we finish up for the season in early July. You can check our availability here.

Orca re-sights end of May

A male Orca at sunset in Pirates Bay, Eaglehawk Neck.

Not only Humpback Whales look for food along the coast oil the Tasman Peninsula. Only a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky to track a pod of Killer Whales. The whales looked very familiar and Dave Donnelly who manages the ID catalogue of the East Australian Killer Whales confirmed that three of the four animals have been positively identified as EA_0060, EA_0062 and ‘Bent Tip’. The female appeared to be hunting tuna and she shared her prey with the male.

A female Orca off Eaglehawk Neck in the Tasman Sea.

Killer Whales can be identified by their dorsal fins (distinctive shape, nicks and scratches), their saddle patch (the area just behind the dorsal fin) and their eye patch. If you’d like to learn how to identify individual Killer whales, you can find out more about the different identification methods in our blog post, where we talk about tracking Orcas for research purposes.