People and Places
Humpback whales on our doorstep
by By Josie Jones for Mornington Peninsula Magazine

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Humpback Whale under water in Mornington. Photo taken by photographer James Teohart

Humpbacks whales are often sighted in Port Phillip and along the Mornington Peninsula coast during the cooler months as they head north on their migration, with the first reports of their presence typically shared around Queen’s Birthday weekend. We took the time to chat with cetacean scientist, science communicator and marine educator Sue Mason, from Cetacean Science, to find out a little more about the whales during this migration trail.

During the winter, the humpback whale fasts and lives off the blubber/fat stores it accumulated during the summer. Once these whales reach their destination near the world’s tropical regions, they begin mating, socialising and reproducing.

Reaching lengths of up to 18m and weighing as much as 35 tonnes, the humpback whale can grow to be one of the largest known whale species in existence today. One of the largest humpback whales ever recorded measured 27m.

If you want to see whales for yourself, higher vantage points along the Peninsula, including Cape Schanck and the cliffs of the back beaches, or the upper decks of the SeaRoad ferries are good places to scan the ocean in search of these large marine mammals.

Look for their blow as it dissipates high above the water surface or waves that appear to be an anomaly.  Interestingly, humpbacks can often be more active when it is windy, so look for splashes that might indicate a tail slap, a pec slap, or a breach. 

To discover when whales are in our waters, follow the Two Bays Whale Project Facebook page for close-to-real-time reports, or if you just want to know more about the cetacean species that can be found in our Peninsula waters, check out Sue’s website at

Where will you go on the Mornington Peninsula to look for whales this winter?

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