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A young humpback whale sighted off Green Island, the first reported sighting in our region, has hailed the start of whale season in the Tropical North.
Passengers and crew aboard sailing catamaran Ocean Spirit were treated to see the humpback whale breaching repeatedly out of the water as they were en route to Michaelmas Cay on Thursday 22 June.
Quicksilver Group Marine Biologist, and cetacean expert, Phil Coulthard said “The arrival of the first Humpback whale for the season is always very exciting. This whale was travelling solo and very active. It’s not uncommon to see the younger males arrive first, and this behaviour would likely mean he is healthy and ambitious, demonstrating the behaviours needed to become a dominant, successful whale in the future. “
“This sighting marks the beginning of the winter migration to our region of east coast humpback whales from the southern oceans of Australia to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.”
The sighting was recorded for the GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef monitoring program.
Humpbacks are generally seen on the Great Barrier Reef between the months of June to September with regular sightings near Green Island and at the Outer Reefs, bringing an added bonus for passengers at this time.
Humpback whales regularly migrate from Antarctic waters along the east coast of Australia every winter to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef to breed and calve. They are easily identified by having extremely large pectoral fins (their scientific name is Megaptera, which literally means giant wing). They grow up to approximately 16 metres in length, weighing in at 30-40 tonnes. Male humpbacks produce “songs”, which are believed to attract females at mating times.