September 27, 2016

Whales!

It looks like I’m not the only one doing some traveling near Sydney Harbour.

My late September visit coincided with the southward migration of Humpback Whales. So I did what a lot of people do every spring in Sydney — I went on a whale watching cruise.

One of my former bosses has a daughter living in Sydney. It was the daughter who suggested the tour, and she also made the arrangements. All I had to do was meet her at Darling Harbour and board the boat. That’s my kind of cruise!

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The journey out to the open water was quite long and, for seasickness sufferers, a pretty rough ride. But it was also a beautiful one, complete with great views of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, scenic cliffs and sail boats. So many sail boats!

Eventually, we neared the migration route, and our “skipper” would cut the boat’s engine and alert us whenever he saw a pod of whales. It was fun looking for the “blow” of air as they surfaced.

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And then … WHALES!!!!

Legally, the tour boats have to maintain a certain distance, but sometimes whales get curious. When they swim up to a boat (or under), it’s called a mugging. As long as the whales are in control and undisturbed, that’s totally fine. Unfortunately, there were no muggings (as it were) or breaches during my tour, but the cruise company regularly posts photos of both on their Twitter feed.

If I’d had a longer lens, I could’ve gotten some nice close-ups. The whales would surface for a bit, then dive and be out of sight for four to five minutes.

The anticipation of wondering when they’d surface, and where, was fun … along with hearing the collective ooo’s and ahhh’s from passengers whenever a whale was spotted.

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Our cruise was supposed to last three and a half hours, but it ended up lasting more than four. Because we had so many sightings, our skipper graciously squeezed in as much whale watching time as possible before calling it a day.

On the way back to Darling Harbour, there were more beautiful sail boats …

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… and another chance to photograph the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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I didn’t know what to expect from my first whale watching cruise, but I had a wonderful time, and I’d take another tour in a heartbeat.

Maybe, next time, I’ll even get mugged. 😉