Early whale spotting ‘not unusual’

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A sighting of a humpback whale in March has surprised Cheynes Beach residents but is not unusual, according to experts.

Footage taken by Debby Licastro earlier this week was shared by Cheynes Beach Caravan Park on social media to show a humpback frolicking off Flat Rock on Sunday.

“A humpback whale at Cheynes Beach yesterday,” the post said.

“I don’t think I have ever seen one here in March before.”

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions foreign conservation officer Peter Collins said it was not unusual to see a humpback whale in Albany at this time of the year. he said he had heard of another humpback sighting earlier this week.

“An environmental officer from port authority has reported another whale sighting from Princess Royal Harbour,” he said. “It might be a week or two early but it’s not unusual to see it this early.”

From April-July,whale-watchers should be able to spot Australian humpback whales as they migrate towards tropical calving grounds in the Kimberley.

But Mr Collins said the whales often stayed further offshore during the migration north.

“It’s not renowned for the humpback whales to go close to shore during this time, unlike the Southern right whale that we also often see here in Albany,” he said.

However, when the humpback whales migrate back to the south, they stay closer to the shore to protect their newborn calves.

When the whales are in a playful mood, they may put on spectacular displays of breaching, rolling, or slapping their pectoral fins.

“We are quite lucky in the south coast to have such a long whale-watching period,” Mr Collins said.

Whale-watching season in Albany officially starts in June and lasts until October. The whales can be spotted along Albany’s coast.

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