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A humpack whale breaches above the ocean
Photograph: Unsplash/Thomas Kelley

Australia’s east coast is set to have a surge in humpback whale sightings this season

Keep an eye on the ocean, whale watchers

Alannah Maher

Whale watchers, be advised: 2020's winter could be one of the best seasons yet for sighting spouts, tails, and pods of frolicking giant sea mammals. 

Every year, at about this time, hundreds of people take to headlands and viewing points all along the east coast and around Sydney for the annual whale census conducted by the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans (ORRCA). On Sunday, June 28, the census took place – and despite cold, physically distanced conditions, sightings of whales using the coastal highway on their migration were promising. 

The numbers from Sunday are still being tallied, however ORRCA’s vice president Jools Farrell told reporters from ABC Illawarra that humpback whale sightings have increased by 10 to 15 per cent each year over the past 21 years, and that it looks like we’re in for a similar increase this year. 

The steady increase in whale numbers is attributed to the end of commercial whaling. Thirty years ago there were fewer than 300 whales spotted along our coast, now there are upwards of 33,000. 

Humpback whales typically pass Australia’s east coast between June and August, while on their 10,000 kilometre annual migration. They travel north up from the Antarctic to sub-tropical waters where they mate and give birth.

Want to get a glimpse of these gentle giants? We have you covered for the best places to go whale watching in Sydney.

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