Perth Stories and Tips

A day with the whales

Whale day Photo, Perth, Australia

On a clear spring day, with barely a wisp of cirrus cloud on high and the ocean's surface a sheen a master French polisher would envy, our boat caressed its way across the transparent waters of Monkeys Bay.

The tension of expectation was paramount onboard, especially after our first fin was sighted. It was small and didn't vary in its profile above the surface. Clearly this was something else. A 3m hammerhead was something else that dogged us for about 4 minutes before it cut across our stern and revealed its full shape in the clear, sun-kissed waters of the ocean.

Then, off our starboard bow, the first flukes appeared, giving rise to a frustration of wanting to be there beside them, but knowing they were still a few kilometres away. We did rendezvous with them, at first with a mother and calf, and then later with a threesome.

By law (how they could possibly enforce it is a mystery), you are required to stay 100m from the beasts. However, when you are stationary and they come to you, well, that's a different matter. As one went under the boat, I, for one, definitely got a bit excited. Then one of them waved one of its side fins at us, but the best was yet to come.

Right before our bow this leviathan’s head slowly rose and broke the surface, rising vertically before our wondrous gaze. Everyone, in a spontaneous, unforgettable moment, broke out in applause. That's the sort of effect it has on you. The maneuver is called a spy hop, but I prefer eyeball-to-eyeball, and as you've already gathered, I'm recommending it!

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