A Whale of a Celebration

Ailsa’s Travel Theme this week is oceanic.  I thought you might fancy a whale of a celebration in honour of Oceans Week.


Shot off the Sunshine Coast, Queensland as these magnificent creatures migrate south to their Antarctic feeding waters.

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103 thoughts on “A Whale of a Celebration

    • The water shots would have made the whales happy, George! They seemed to delight in creating inverse waterfalls, lying back and watching the water sparkle in the sun. It was the most wonderful morning – pure delight and amazement (even more than spending time with my beloved elephants, I have to admit).

      They’re humpback whales George.

  1. Wow! That must have been a spectacular show! I cannot possibly choose a favourite, they are all so brilliant. Thank you for sharing.

  2. So beautiful. As close as we are to whale migrations here in California and the times we’ve been in Hawaii at migration time, I’ve never seen them up close like this. It’s on my list! Wonderful photos!!

    • I was amazed when the gift was proposed, but have to admit I dragged my sorry a.. out of bed in the cold so we would get to the boat in time for a very early start. I hardly had time to have a coffee and suss out the layout of the boat and the best places to position myself when we saw them splashing away in the distance, as if they were calling us over …

  3. Yes, I recognized them as humpbacks! Isn’t it the most thrilling experience!! They are curious about boats, I think. I had an amazing experience that I will never ever forget whale watching in Monterey, CA. Three humpbacks came up to the boat, so close that we actually looked them straight in the eye… they dived underneath the boat and came up the other side, then blew water from their blowholes all over us, etc. They hung out with us for half an hour, then slowly moved away, diving and waving their tails at us just like in those pictures. (My brother lives in Brisbane, Queensland!) Lovely lovely photos! I will have to share mine, some time! I swear, they do love to play – just like dolphins…

    • Oh darlin’ – what a wonderful story. I can imagine three of them up close and personal, diving below you and playing. We had one – the tail spinner – who did that, the other two were a little more circumspect. You must fish (sic) out those pictures:)

  4. Always an amazing sight. We get the humpbacks close up here in Hawaii in the winter (they come to give birth and don’t eat until they return to Alaska around April/May). One summer I inadvertently followed them back to Alaska and watched them eat. How they get together to form a bubble net around a school of fish, forcing them to the surface; how they stretch wide their accordion jaws and gather in a bucketful of silver herring; it’s mesmerizing. Thank you for the wonderful shots.

  5. Wow, what an incredible show these whales put on for you, that closeup of the barnacle-covered nose is spectacular. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to see such vast and wonderful creatures up close like that. 🙂

  6. I’ve seen whales at Kaikoura in the South Island of New Zealand… stunning, breathtaking, beautiful creatures and it’s emotionally moving just being close to them.
    Great Photos…I’m loving the tail spin LOL…

    • Yes, that was quite the thing, wasn’t it – especially as he was sooo close to us. It’s the only shot I took, I was too engrossed in watching, but I could swear he smiled at me, at one time, or was that my memory smiling back at him?

      It’s really an extraordinary thing, being along their migratory routes so close to the coast – so many of us can get a chance to see them:)

    • When I lived in Mossel Bay, Cape Province, we had gorgeous views from the house. We watched dolphins surfing with seals, whales coming in with their little ones, playing and lazing. it was magnificent! But the most blessesd moment was witnessing the birth of a whale baby! I didn’t realise at the time, what had just happened. All I knew is that it was unusual and spectacular. I related the incident to a friend, and they told me what it was about.
      An aunty is always in close attendance to the mother-to-be as her time draws near. The Auntie swims beneath mom as she give birth. Auntie then flings the baby into the air, this snaps the umbilical cord, and forces baby to take its first breath. This is what I witnessed. The baby go flying a couple of metres through the air and back into the water. I then watched the little pod for a while. They remained nearby for days on end!

      • OMG. How extraordinary. Could you see the baby swimming around with them? He was ok? Oh, my goodness, what an extraordinary thing to witness. Thanks so much for telling me about it Gran. What a treat:)

    • I’ll bet you do! It’s quite a move from the benign and beautiful Eastern Cape to the sere and dramatic Northwest Province. But you were one of the lucky ones, to have experienced both:)

    • Can you see them from the house, Christine – a sort of birds eye view? When they’re heading back south again in the spring, can you see the calves?

      Isn’t it incredible that they swim so close to shore so we can see them – such a gift despite what we did to them during the dark days of whaling:(

  7. Wanderlust, as so often on this site I am in awe. These photographs are amazing: and I cannot imagine being that close to such a beautiful animal Fantastic post.

    • When that fellow was doing his tail spins, I was standing on the lower deck, not 20 feet from him. That’s the only shot I got of him – too engrossed in the feeling of being right here, beside him, as he played, swaying a little in the lapping of the boat from the movement he made in the water around us. Awesome – in the true sense of the word. I’m so glad you enjoyed it too, Kate.

  8. These photos just transported me back to Boston a few years ago. My family took a whale-watching trip from the Boston Harbour, and it was lovely to have the wind across our faces as the boat raced across the ocean. And then it stopped. We puttered around for 2 hours at the almost zero speed, looking for whales. Every single passenger on the boat got seasick in this time. When they finally found one lone whale, i don’t know if we were relieved to finally see a whale, or to know that the boat will finally turn around and go back to the harbour. Needless to say, not our best memory. 🙂

    • OMG!!!!!!!!!! I’m sorry to be laughing so hard I can hardly see the keys, but these pesky wild animals are like that, aren’t they? Put us to so much expense and trouble to go looking for them, then deciding its way too cold/hot to be bothered playing in plain sight and we’re left feeling way maligned!

      I had a similar elephant experience once – we drove most of the day to get to a park that was renowned for elephant, stayed in avery spartan park bungalow and drove, endlessly, searching the horizon, the dust in the ground, everywhere for signs of the beasts. Not one. I figure they’d all taken to the hills when they heard I was coming … 🙂

      So glad you dropped by and left me such a tale of woe:)

  9. Now those are whale shots! Kind of make make mine look pathetic. Still, they are my treasures.

  10. How I envy you! I had a similar tale of woe at the opposite end of the Pacific. The boat ride (in a Zodiac) was supposed to be 90 minutes, but we never spotted a single whale. One of the fishermen radioed in to say there were Orcas at a certain point, so our guide asked if we wanted to go out in search of them past the 90 minutes. After bouncing around at full speed for an extra half hour, we never did chase them down, but the trip was still a lot of fun. I managed to get some nice shots of the seals: http://wp.me/pXX8J-136. I definitely plan to go again. Our guide suggested that the momma grey whales with their babies were probably being extra cautious because of the nearness of the orcas.

    • I’m sorry you missed the grey whales. It’s a bummer when something like that happens, but perversely, it’s kinda great because it reminds us (me, anyway) that these creatures are wild, roaming the oceans (plains, mountains, etc.) of the world. going about their business, with no regard for me and my wish to gaze and gawp at them!
      I’ll go and look at your consolation prizes:)

      • I so agree that I’d rather they remain wild, but still hope for a wee bit of a gawp someday. If not, I’m really happy to have seen and read about your wonderful adventure. The consolation prize was very much worth the trip.

    • Well, I never did before, either. Even when I was travelling from Oz to South Africa, or SA to Europe – we saw dolphins a couple of times, but never ran across whales – so you can imagine how over the moon I was that day!

    • Hey, thanks for dropping by! You’re right – it does feel like a privilege to observe animals in the wild. In the case of these whales, it was quite extraordinary because it’s only a few decades ago – certainly within the memories of most of these humpbacks, that we were hunting them down. And here they were, playing with us as gently as can be …

    • It was one of those special days that, even if you forget your name, you should remember! Certainly I don’t remember being so absolutely thrilled by anything quite like that before:)

      Now, thanks for the link to your Image of Life challenge. I think it’s an excellent idea – fantastic – but I’ll have to sit out Happiness. Sometimes portraiture gets a bit personal for the net, if you understand what I mean? You can be sure I’ll be looking out for the next challenge though …

  11. what an experience. We have had orcas here in the harbour but I wasn’t lucky enough to see them…here’s hoping next summer it might be different

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