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May 21

The Whales are coming to Cairns and Port Douglas

Posted on May 21, 2013 by

Don’t worry they will not eat you whilst snorkelling!

During the cooler months of May to August Antarctic Whales will migrate north to the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef to give birth to their young as the warmer waters provide an abundance of food sources and a safe conditions for the calves to survive.

Pods of Humpback and Dwarf Minke Whales can be spotted in the deep channels all over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during these times.

Snorkeling With The Whales


Dwarf Minke Whales

For most people the thought of swimming with whales in the wild is a once in a life time opportunity. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) grants various Reef operators permits to swim with Dwarf Minke Whales. The permit basically allows humans to snorkel whilst holding onto a safety line attached to the stern of the vessel. This is the only permit of its kind in the world. Scuba Diving is not permitted as the whales have extremely sensitive hearing receptors and can be easily scared at the sound of the bubbles. Snorkelling is the least intrusive way of enjoying the company of these beautiful animals from within water. You will probably be quite surprised at how inquisitive these creatures are as they will often get up close to humans to take a good look at you!

Don’t worry they will not eat you as they are Baleen whales which means they feed on krill and small fish and have no teeth as such. These cuties grow around 6 metres to 8 metres and are some of the most inquisitive and cheeky whales in the world. So far there have only been 200 of this species of whale counted by researchers and they only started arriving on the Great Barrier Reef around 12 years ago and they do not seem to fear humans just yet!

Book your Great Barrier Reef tour here with one of the only two boats that have the permits to swim with Dwarf Minke Whales in Port Douglas. Please note these are wild animals and it is up to them to come to the boat and approach the swimmers. Boats are not permitted to pursue the whales at all it is to be a natural interaction on the Whales terms. Also please note when working with wild animals you will not be guaranteed to see them nor swim with them as the Great Barrier Reef is a wide open sea. However the boats skippers know the migration paths and do their utmost best to position the boat in place to take advantage of the whale season for their guests.

The colder the water temperature the more likely the whale encounter so it is wise to leave it possibly later in the season if you your heart is absolutely set on seeing these whales.

Minke Whale


Giant Humpback Whales

Swimming with Humpback Whales is definitely not permitted simply because of their massive size and the fact that they can become quite protective of their young it would pose a serious safety threat. However, to witness these majestic creatures breach (jump) from the depths of the ocean is a sight that is simply breath taking.


Humpback Whale

The best way to increase your chances of an encounter with whales is definitely by staying out on the reef overnight on a liveaboard dive boat.

Liveaboard scuba dive and snorkelling trips are boats that stay out on the water overnight or longer and allow for passengers to maximise their Great Barrier Reef experience. Experience the serene silence as the sun sets in the west and the magnificent sun rises over the reef in the east.

Most liveaboard dive boats offer deluxe accommodation, meals, snorkelling and scuba diving included in their price. They cover a lot greater distance to the outer barrier reef than a day boat and will venture to the more secluded areas of reef where you may not even encounter any other boat traffic.

You will be on the boat generally longer than 2 days so your chances of seeing whales more than doubles! For more information and options on liveaboard scuba diving trips check out this link:

Author: Leah – A Cairns Holiday Specialists Tour Specialist

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