The world’s largest Humpback whale population
At approximately 28,000 – 34,000 individuals, Western Australia’s Breeding Group D population of Humpback whales is considered the world’s largest.
Hunting of Humpback whales ceased in 1963, but whaling in general continued until the closure of the Albany whaling station in 1978. Since hunting ceased the whales have staged a remarkable recovery. From as little as 500 individuals, the whale population has been increasing at approximately 10% per annum, so that the current whale population numbers are probably near to those of pre-whaling days.
Every year a significant proportion of the population leaves the Antarctic feeding grounds to journey to the warm tropical waters of the Kimberley coast to breed and to give birth. Calves are nurtured for several months before attempting the long journey back to the whale’s Antarctic summer feeding grounds. En route they must navigate heavy industry and pods of Killer whales.
The entire Kimberley coast from just south of Broome to north of Camden Sound is now considered to be an important birthing area for the whales. In their 2009 and 2011 Kimberley Cetacean Surveys, local reearchers Richard Costin and Annabelle Sandes from “Kimberley Whale Watching” noted that large numbers were sighted between Broome and The Lacepede Islands, and the Lacepede Islands and Broome. A recent community whale survey at James Price Point has also found significant numbers of whale resting inshore on the lower Dampier Peninsula.
A recent IFAW report stated that
“According to existing databases, 32 cetacean species have been recorded in the NW Marine Region, 21 of which occur there regularly and a further 11 that, to date,have been recorded rarely. Among the 21 species that frequent the region regularly, there are nine dolphins and 12 whales”
Whales found in Kimberley inshore and offshore waters include the Blue whale and Pygmy blue whale, Sperm whale, Pygmy killer whale, Short-finned pilot whale and Bryde’s whale. Dolphins found in Kimberley waters include the Indo-Pacific and Common bottlenose, Indo-pacific humpback, Dwarf spinner, Spinner, Striped and Australian Snubfin dolphin.
For more information visit Kimberley Whale Watching
Extended whale watching tours