The next in this series of my top/favourite whale encounters is a little special because it was QUITE unexpected.
#5: My THIRD encounter with MIGALOO! (September 2017)
We weren’t actually expecting to see him – last I’d heard he was way up north on the reef somewhere around the islands – so I don’t think anyone was even looking for him. And then THERE HE WAS.
But allow me to backtrack a little…
It began like any other whale watch…
It was actually a last minute decision to even go whale watching that day – but THANK GOD I DID!! I decided the afternoon before to head down for the Saturday morning tour with Whale Watch Australia (the original Sea World Whale Watch). I still don’t know why I did but, daaaaamn, am I happy I listened to the little whale watching angel on my shoulder! 😂
We headed out as usual and came across a mum and her young calf so we hung out with them for a bit. The mother was pretty calm and bub headed over to check us out a bit closer. It was a really beautiful encounter.
After maybe 45-60 mins or so, our wonderful host (Grace) came over the PA and says (paraphrasing here – it was 3 years ago, after all!) “Everyone, we’ve just been advised of some unusual activity much further south which we’re going to check out. We’re going to be travelling at speed to get there so if you could all please take your seats now…”
I remember going “What the…???” I’d been out with SWWW many many times before and knew we wouldn’t just leave a mother and calf (because they’re such beautiful and special encounters). Whatever this ‘unusual activity’ was, it must’ve been something really different/special!
(Hilariously, Migs didn’t even enter my thinking. The only thing I could think of was a superpod but I didn’t think that would necessarily mean leaving a mum and bub… unless the superpod was, like, 30 whales or something! 🤣)
So the Captain put the speed on and we charged down towards Burleigh. I think we got to about Miami/Mermaid area and I still wasn’t any the wiser. But once we got closer, we waited for something to happen and then we saw… The Glow.
What is…? Wait, is that…?!
Migaloo’s vibrant aqua glow when he’s under the water is a dead giveaway. Sometimes the colour confuses people if a whale is upside down on its back – most Southern Humpbacks have white bellies, which is the part that looks aqua underwater. But no whale is going to remain upside down for THAT long!
As you can imagine, everyone on board got the surprise of their lives when MIGALOO appeared, cruising past the Gold Coast on his southward migration! (It’s unusual for us to hear about his southbound trip at all – usually we hear about him heading north but not so much when he’s Antarctica-bound.)
While it was special enough to even see him (and so unexpectedly), we were treated to a show! He was some tail lobbing and peduncle throwing – probably the most active I’ve ever seen him! Of course, my camera settings were originally set for whales that have dark skin on top and in all the excitement… I forgot to adjust them. 🙈 There are a fair few photos which blew out but I got enough photos (and memories!) to last me a long time. 😍😍😍
It is always an absolute privilege to see the White Fella but OMG… twice in one season. WHAT. EVEN. I was deadset BUZZING with excitement for a good 48 hours after that. (Not to mention that it was REALLY windy and a bit choppy on the water – I was still feeling the ‘motion of the ocean’ for hours after I got off the boat. 😂)
So that’s my #5 top encounter. Any guesses what the other four might be? Post your guesses in the comments!