My Blue Whale Neighbours

Who knew that Blue Whales hang out off the coast of Perth during our summers, a few nautical miles from where I am sitting typing at home right now?  Not me, until last week when I happened across Whale Watch Western Australia on the internet.  Not one to muck about, I booked myself a place on the  7 hour excursion which went out yesterday.  Here is some of what I saw…

At 8 a.m sharp we glided out of Sardine Wharf at Fremantle. The water close to shore was like a millpond.

“This way”, signalled a cormorant as we left the inner harbour behind.

Our destination was an area known as Perth Canyon.  This is a submarine canyon located off the coast of Perth approximately 22 km west of Rottnest Island.  It has an average depth of 1.5 km (5000 ft) and is 15 km across, making it larger than the Grand Canyon.  As it is a nutrient-rich eco hot spot, it is a perfect feeding ground for mega fauna including the Pygmy Blue Whale.  This cetacean is a subspecies of the Antarctic or True Blue Whale.  ‘Pygmy’ is a misleading name as this whale is not much smaller than the Antarctic Blue Whale – measuring around 70 to 80 ft long.

A Fleshy Footed Shearwater.

Another view of the shearwater.

Photographs of Blue Whales don’t do them justice.  This is a case of “you really had to be there” as only from the boat can you fathom how majestic and ENORMOUS these mammals are.  The crew of Whale Watch Western Australia love their subjects and were extremely respectful towards them.  They gently maneuvered the boat so that the whales were comfortable in our presence.

A mother and calf were close to us. When a third whale appeared, she nudged her young one into position next to the boat to keep the other whale at bay.

Summer being essentially over, soon our whales will head off to Indonesian waters to spend winter there.

An elegant fluke sequence as the whale dives…

A shearwater lands on the water to enjoy some  dispersing whale poo. (That is the orange-colour floury substance you can see in the water.) Whale poo is nutrient-rich and fertilises the ocean.


What a delight to see albatrosses!  After much checking of “The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds” and the internet,  I can safely say that this is a Yellow-nosed Albatross (Indian ocean form).  A medium-sized albatross such as this is known as a mollymawk.

What an exceptional day yesterday was.  To think that all this is happening so close to where I live.  I also saw dolphins, petrels and Australasian gannets but I didn’t get any good photos of them.  (They were too fast!)  Yesterday was a bit like going through the wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and finding myself in Narnia; pure magic.

My neighbours are Blue Whales  – who knew?!?


9 thoughts on “My Blue Whale Neighbours

  1. anna warren portfolio

    It is an amazing privilege to live so close to these majestic creatures, and what a great day out that must have been. Seeing them close up like that, in their own habitat is wonderful. When we were returning from WA several years ago we stopped at Head of Bight on the Nullarbor to see the Southern Right whales with babies in their birthing area, and it is hard to describe the feeling of getting so close to these huge graceful animals. Seeing the variety of birdlife – not to mention their interesting food – must have added to the day!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Anna, now I have a hankering to see the Southern Right and Humpback whales. I’m sure I will do this in the winter season. (It’s addictive.) I was just as keen to see seabirds as I was to see the whales. Later I had a jolly old time trying to figure out WHAT sort of albatross and WHAT sort of shearwater I saw. Happily I worked both out as later I read the ‘daily report’ that Whale Watch had put out and – yes – I got the birds right…Yellow-Nosed and Fleshy Footed – great names!

  2. rhodjoy

    What a wonderful and humbling experience, Julie! Thank you very much. I also had no idea all this was going on so close to me! Love the pics and the commentary, I think it deserves a visit from quite a few of us.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I do hope that “quite a few of you” will take this excursion. Every time I look out to sea now, I have a whole new appreciation for what is out there. Now I like living in Fremantle even more than I did – and I already LOVED it! Seeing whales does something to the soul.

  3. Suzanne

    How Fantastic especially as you got to see the whales, as well as all of the other wildlife! I can only imagine how many photos you must have taken. I know I would have taken hundreds! Very envious of you, not much chance of me taking the trip though as I live in the U.K. Thanks for sharing!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Suzanne. I was determined to enjoy myself whether I saw any whales or not. As they aren’t tame, I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t see any. However – joy of joys – they appeared.
      It has been a couple of weeks now since that trip. I believe I am still affected by the experience in that I have more respect now for our planet than I had before. Seeing the magnificence of whales is so humbling and makes one keener than ever to protect our planet’s environment.

      1. Suzanne

        You have been blessed by the experience. I absolutely agree with you regarding respecting and protecting the planet – I just wish everybody felt the same way. I look forward to seeing what you create from the inspiration of this trip.

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        I don’t feel, Suzanne, that any drawings will come from the trip. Sometimes I am happy for photos and written words to be enough. Though one never knows where a journey will take one.

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