WHALE sightings are being reported in Western Port and Port Phillip bays in what researchers say has become an annual event coinciding with the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
The Dolphin Research Institute and the Two Bays Whale Project have been receiving reports of humpback and southern right whales in both bays.
“Humpback whales regularly visit Port Phillip and Western Port from June through to mid-August and again from late September to November,” DRI research officer Sue Mason said.
“The first reported sighting of a humpback whale usually comes into the institute around the Queen’s Birthday weekend, prompting DRI’s research staff to call the weekend Whale Weekend. These whales are on a detour as they migrate north along the east Australian coast. “
Ms Mason said humpbacks were easily identified by their dorsal fin and pectoral fins that are about one third of their body length.
“In contrast, southern right whales have smaller, square pectoral fins, lack a dorsal fin and have a rostrum, or nose, covered with hard, lighter coloured skin patches called callosities.”
Ms Mason said recommended lookout sites for whales included Point Nepean, Mills Beach, Mornington, and the Nobbies and Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island.
“On the odd occasion, the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry can become an impromptu whale watching vessel. For example, a southern right whale was seen off Portsea last Sunday evening from the ferry,” she said.
Last year, the Two Bays Whale Project, which records sightings from the Barwon Coast to Inverloch, received 87 validated sightings, including 80 humpbacks, four southern rights and three killer whales.
Boats must not approach to within less than 200 meters of a whale.