Having a Whale of a time, Coffs Harbour, Northern New South Wales, Australia

 

Whale watch boats cater for tourists at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Whale watch boats cater for tourists at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

The whaling season is an exciting time of the year. Fortunately, harpoons are replaced by cameras nowadays and draws visitors in from near and far.

Whale migration around Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Whale migration around Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

During spring and fall, large numbers of mainly humpback whales migrate either to or from the Antarctic Circle. As some of my friends know, I always felt that I have a special connection with whales. There is just something about these giants of the ocean that gives me inner peace and freedom.

Gentle giants around Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Gentle giants around Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Knowing that something so big and strong is the most gentle creature of the ocean simply amazes me. This applies to elephants on land too. Watching whales from the coastal shoreline gives most locals an extra inventive to spend a few hours on their favorable whale watch view point. Whales do come fairly close to shore at times, but that just wasn’t close enough for me. On a fairly calm day, I exchanged my fishing rods with my OM-D and set out out for a shoot, hoping that luck was on my side once more. This was a somewhat risky undertaking, saltwater and modern technology just don’t mix. Photography from a wobbly kayak is as difficult as it sounds. Being so close to the water surface doesn’t give me much of an angle to spot these impressive creatures either. On calm days, you are most likely to hear them before you see them. That blow hole sound is just unmissable. Otherwise, you hear the fin slapping or breaching and splashing sounds. This really gets my adrenaline pumping.

Come over here! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Come over here! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

I was in luck again. A mother and it’s year old calf seemed to wave me over to witness their idea of having a Whale of a time.

Aerial whale show  at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Aerial whale show at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

An extraordinary areal display had already begun and I paddled as fast as I could towards Muttonbird Island.

Mighty splash at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Mighty splash at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

This whale was really showing off.

Relaxed mom and calf at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Relaxed mom and calf at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Mom was in a relaxed mode, swimming upside down, slapping her massive fin onto to the water repeatedly.

Just because at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Just because at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Whales do that for many reasons I believe. It’s used for communication with other whales, stunning baitfish or just because they can. This is an almighty sound and view.

Close encounter at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Close encounter at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Mom was happy and relaxed and allowed me to come quite close.

Swimming towards me at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Swimming towards me at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

The two of them were even a little bit curious about my floating yellow rubber duck and came towards me. Wow, how cool is that? Being surrounded by the largest animal on earth is an indescribable feeling.

Down she goes at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Down she goes at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

An up close and personal encounter of kind whales and mankind. Any animal lover should experience this feeling, it is just incredible. I felt like jumping in to the water and welcome them to the Coffs Coast.

Almost got the shot at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Almost got the shot at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Youngster was full of beans and had some energy to burn. Repeatedly, the calf leaped out of the water to crash land on the ocean’s surface. Did I mention how difficult it is to aim to the right spot at the right time to capture this spectacle?

Spectacular  at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Spectacular at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Eventually, I did get the picture I was aiming for, the calf was airborne in mid air. Simply spectacular.

Drifting towards North Wall at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Drifting towards North Wall at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

As they drifted closer to the marina’s north-wall, both settled down.

Cruising along North Wall at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Cruising along North Wall at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

They still have a long way to go to the arctic circle and energy needs to be conserved.

Just gigantic at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Just gigantic at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Mum stuck her colossal tail fin out of the water a few times, giving me the opportunity for that desired tail-shot.

Tail up, tail down! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Tail up, tail down! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

As if she was resting or discovering things on the seafloor, she really wasn’t in a hurry.

Farewell amazing creatures! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Farewell amazing creatures! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Eventually, they continued their hazardous journey south, not before waving goodbye.

Just smile and wave, smile and wave! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Just smile and wave, smile and wave! at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Farewell my gigantic friends and Bon Voyage. Thank you for an unforgettable experience, we all had a whale of a time. 

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