Denmark Western Australia - A Local's Tour Guide

Whales of the Denmark Coast

Humpback WhaleEach year tourists from around the world visit the Rainbow Coast to catch a glimpse of the whales. The Great Southern Ocean is home to a huge whale population who breed and feed in the bays.

These beautiful creatures pass us during their migration as they travel between the warmer northern waters and the cooler seas surrounding Antarctica.

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, adopted by the International Whaling Commission in 1994, provides long-term protection to the feeding grounds of almost three quarters of the world's remaining whales.

Many whale species can be found off of the coast including the Humpback and Southern Right Whales most prominently. We have included a mini Whale Encyclopedia of Whales on the Rainbow Coast. Click here to jump down to this information...

Whale Watching Tours in Albany

If you are coming to visit during whale watching season we'd recommend visiting the whales. We highly recommend booking your whale watching tour in advance.

Whale Watching is a fantastic way to spend the morning or afternoon. The King George Sound is a sheltered harbour offering two passages to the Great Southern Ocean.

The whales come and go in these sheltered water and it is unusual to go out and NOT see these humble, giant creatures. The great Humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 kilometres each year as they migrate between Antarctica and Australia.

Click here to see our
Whale Watching Experience.

Dolphins and Seals can be seen in the sheltered waters, the seals most often laze in on the warm rocks off of Seal Island.

Southern Right Whales head for the bays during early winter and spring when they arrive to give birth before returning to the Antarctic waters to feed for the summer months.

If you are interested in Whale Watching, you can find a Map to the Albany Pier [click here] where you will find the two whale-tour operators. Ample parking and toilets at the pier.

Click here to see our
Whale Watching Experience.

and the Rainbow Coast
Whale Biographies

Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale
Humpback Whale
Length: 14 -19 metres long with calves approximately 5 metres.
Weight: 25 - 40 tonnes (40,000 kilograms)
Speed: 8 kmph (4 knots)

The Humpback whale is a beleen whale, which means it has baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than having teeth.

They are a common sound in 'whale song' tapes and CDs. More information on Humpback Whales can be found at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Visit the ACSonline for more about Humpbacks. These great mamals were once hunted to the brink of extinction.

Southern Right WhaleSouthern Right Whale
(Eubalaena australis)

Right Whale
Length: Adult 15 – 18m Calf 5.5m
Weight: Adult 54 - 96 tonnes
Speed: 4 kmph (2 knots) – 10kmph (5 knots)

These whales are called 'right' whales because they were the 'right' whale for whalers to hunt. They were slow, and thus hunted easily. There are now only 7,500 Southern Right Whales spread throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Since hunting of the Southern Right Whale ceased, their numbers are estimated to have grown by 7% a year.

The Southern Right whale uses the sheltered beaches along the Rainbow Coast to birth their young - usually from July to October.

More information on Southern Right Whales can be found at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Sperm Whales ~ (Physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm Whales beneath the waterSperm Whale
Length: Male 15 – 20m Female 14m
Weight: Male 35 tonnes Female 19 tonnes

The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of all toothed whales, making them the Earth's largest living carnivore and largest living toothed animal. They feed on squid and fish, diving as deep as 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) in order to obtain it, making it the deepest diving mammal in the world.

Sperm whales are easily recoginised by the rectangular head shown in drawings of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick."

More information on Sperm Whales can be found at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Minke WhaleSouthern Minke Whale

Minke Whale
Length: Adult 8 – 10m Calf 3m
Weight: Adult 8 tonnes Calf .45 tonnes
Speed: 25 kmph (13 knots)

Minke whales arch their backs while diving but do not raise their tail flukes. They can live up to 60 years.

Helping a stranded whale

Helping a stranded whale:
Whales and dolphins can become stranded on the beach. If you find a stranded whale or dolphin, please contact the the The Department of Fisheries at: ALBANY REGIONAL OFFICE on 08 9841 7766
Suite 7, Frederick House, 70-74 Frederick St, Albany, WA, 6330

What can I do?

  • Look for signs of movement.
  • Be gentle.
  • Protect the whale from the sun if possible.
  • Pour cold water on the skin, especially the flippers and fluke.
  • It may be possible to return a small whale to the ocean using a sling of canvas or towe1s. Carry it into the water and keep its blowhole above the surface until it can swim.
"Dad, what's a 'whaling boat' for?

OrcaIt was quite a conversation to have with our children... to answer their innocence with the truth was too horrendous. I can't really believe it myself... what a whaling boat is actually for. I couldn't let them know at such a young age...

So, I spun a tale of 'Whale Research Boats' filled with people who are actively caring for the whales. (That made sense both to us and to them. Ships that are designed to CARE for this great species!)

It turns out this is exactly the same tale Japan, Iceland and Norway have been feeding to the public (yes, the adults!) for years. The story covers up the fact that these countries are STILL slaughtering whales, dolphins and porpoises. Ick! How careless we've become with our friends from the sea.

Whaling - away you go

There is an attraction in Albany called Whaleworld which once was a whaling-station. Call the tourist information for details. We find it not very appealing to discuss, except to point out its brief history and to oppose those still 'hunting' whales in the open ocean in outher countries. I am glad Australia awoke from that 'necessity' many years ago. I love Australia. As to the rest of the whaling countries: Let the ocean animals be!

The Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was established by the IWC in 1994 with 5 countries supporting the agreement and Japan opposing it. The status of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary is reviewed and open to change by the IWC every 10 years. During the 2004 meeting a proposal was made by Japan to remove the sanctuary, but it failed to reach the 75% majority required (it received 25 votes in favour and 30 votes against with two abstentions).

As sanctuaries only apply to commercial whaling, Japan has continued to hunt whales inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary because its whaling is done in accordance with a provision in the IWC charter permitting whaling for the purposes of . Japan also lodged a formal objection to the sanctuary with regard to minke whales, meaning that under IWC rules, the terms of the sanctuary do not apply to Japan with respect to minkes. The catch of the 2005 season (Dec 05-Mar 06) inside the sanctuary included 856 minke whales and ten of the endangered Fin whale. In 2007 - 2008 Japan planned to take 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales.

(*source Wikipedia Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary)

History of Whaling in WA
Whaling in Western Australia was one of the first viable industries established in the Swan River Colony following the arrival of British settlers in 1829. The industry had numerous ups and downs until the last whaling station closed in Albany in 1978.

There are two main species of whales (order Cetacea) which form aggregations along the Western Australian coastline: the Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis), and the Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). The Southern Rights are slow swimmers and their carcases tend to float due to the high concentration of oil in the blubber - hence the name "right" as it made the task of the whale chasers easier. Its conservation status is now listed as "endangered" as result of more than 150 years of hunting.

Both species migrated along the north-south coastline stopping in bays such as Geographe Bay (east of Cape Naturaliste) and Flinders Bay (east of Cape Leeuwin) for mating and breeding. Other species occasionally caught were Sperm Whales and Blue Whales, although these tended to be seen mainly along the southern coast of Western Australia.

(*This brief history of the Western Australian Whaling 'Industry' can be found on wikipedia: Whaling in Western Australia )

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Denmark Western Australia on the South Coast of Western Australia is part of a national biosphere area and deserves our care and respect. Please try to be responsible for your environmental impact when visiting Denmark WA. Photographs of Denmark have all been taken by local photographers and are copyright protected. They are editorial in nature and are not for sale and may NOT be used without written permission. Denmark WA Maps are coded using technology from Google. Videos are intended for educational and documentary purposes and are streamed using YouTube technology. Website Design and photography by our family of five living in the heart of the Rainbow Coast. This site is for informational purposes only and is a travelogue, weblog and a web resource for visitors to the South Coast, the Great South West Edge of Western Australia. This is a website sharing the beauty of Denmark Western Australia from a local's perspective. We are not affiliated with the Shire of Denmark. We are not affiliated with the official Denmark Visitors Centre.
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