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Three for Three
Last year in Port Douglas we spotted three whales in the first twelve days. We saw a whale once every four days. Long hours spent surveying for little return.
This morning we cruised over to the fuel dock and Terry from the marina said “She’s come right for you Greg.” He’s referring to the weather. After nearly two months of shocking windy weather, a change for the better has come. Just in the nick of time.
Captain Craig from the fishing vessel “Dragon Lady” strolls down the fuel dock and offers his help in spotting whales. He tells Annie he has lately observed a number of animals near the reefs south of the Low Isles.
The seas have dropped to about a meter, and the wind has eased to 10 -13 knots, so we decide to take a run south towards Cairns and Pixie Reef. Twenty-four miles later, we spot our first pod just on the edge of Batt Reef. A pair of adults is cruising west.
Thirty minutes later a frisky sub adult clears the water’s surface some two miles to the south and we head over to check him out. This small male commences to put on a fantastic aerial display, breaching and peduncle slapping. Despite a tricky head sea and water flying everywhere, Annie manages to snap some great images and Amanda doesn’t miss one bit of data. Our curious whale does a couple of laps around our boat; spy hops and then continues seaward. But not before showing us his flukes.
We cruise east of Pixie reef and spot a pair of adults breaching. They each blow, arch and disappear. We change our survey direction and head north along the inner edge of Batt Reef and towards Tongue Reef.
Near sunset we receive a call from Captain Chris on board the “Calypso”. He has spotted a mother and calf inside the lagoon of Tongue Reef. The calf is breaching. We cruise eight miles eastward into the lagoon. The water is clear and calm with the tide rushing in over the reef. We find our first mother and calf of the season in just 21 feet of water.
The calf slowly circles its mother’s head, rolling off her back, and gently raising its pectoral fins in the air. The sight is incredibly private and touching. We sit placidly, watching as the pair lolls about in the calm lagoon. Slowly, but seemingly without a care, the pair swim by our idle boat.
The sun is quickly setting and we are still 22.5 miles out to sea. Time to head for port.
“Let’s head back here tomorrow,” Annie says. “This place is magic.”
I have to agree.
Oh, and that makes three for three – whales spotted three research days in row. I’d say we are off to a much start than ’09.
P.S. To help you follow along with us geographically, please go to http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/management/zoning/zoning_maps.html
Download MPZ6-Cairns map. We depart from Port Douglas, just north of Cairns. All sites referenced in our bog may be located on this map.
P.P.S We also saw three bottlenose dolphins today. 3 for 3 for 3!