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Whales of the Coast

Albany, Denmark & Walpole, Western Australia
Whale Watching Tours, Albany Australia - Humpback Whale Photo

Each year tourists from around the world visit the south 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 Rainbow 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 learn about the Whale Species of the Southern Ocean.

Humpback Whale

Southern Right and Humpback 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.

Whale Watching in Albany, WA

If you are coming to Albany to watch the Whales, we 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.

Humpback Whale Calf in Albany, Australia

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.

LEARN about the Whales of the Great Southern Ocean

Humpback 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.

Humpback Whale

Sperm Whales ~ (Physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm 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.

Sperm Whales beneath the water

Southern 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.

Minke Whale

The Orca (Killer Whale)

The Orca whale belongs to the oceanic dolphin family and is found all around the world. They are seasonal visitors to the Rainbow Coast. Orcas live in pods (groups) of between 2 and 40. Each group includes at least one large male. Their social behaviour is worth noting, as it points us to another intelligence evolving in the largest of the dolphin family.

"The paper "Culture in Whales and Dolphins", goes as far as to say, "The complex and stable vocal and behavioral cultures of groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) appear to have no parallel outside humans and represent an independent evolution of cultural faculties."
~ Wikipedia



Helping a stranded whale - How to assist

Helping a stranded whale:
Whales and dolphins can become stranded on the beach. If you find a stranded whale or dolphin, please contact 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.

Southern Right Whale
(Eubalaena australis)

Southern Right Whale

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.


"Dad, what's a 'whaling boat' for?

The Cove - The MovieIt was quite a conversation to have with my 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 what humans have done to the whales, not 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.

Rainbow Coast Web Design is active in the campaign against such 'mock research' and hopes you'll do your part to ensure we never again slaughter the whales...!

Whaling? A Tourist Attraction?

We do not find it 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. We love Australia. 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 )

That's as much as we're happy to say about reliving the whaling past. Yes, it may be a part of our history but we're not into it. ~ Editor

Current Weather on the Coast

Weather in Albany

Weather in Denmark

Weather in Walpole

Additional resources for visiting the Rainbow Coast:

Rainbows Rainbows
The coast is perfectly placed to see Rainbows! And perfectly named. Green trees, mountains, forests beaches, and winter rainbows. Visit Rainbows
Seasons of the Coast Seasons of the Coast
You will find a Seasons Calendar with Wildflower and a Whales to help you plan your visit to the South Coast - The Rainbow Coast! Visit Seasons of the Coast
South Coast Beaches Map South Coast Beaches Map
South Coast Beaches from west of Walpole to East of Albany all on one map! Visit South Coast Beaches Map
South Coast Weather South Coast Weather
The climate of the Rainbow Coast is considered to be "the best in the world," according to those who live here. Visit South Coast Weather

Rainbow Coast Regions:

Albany Region Albany Region
The Albany Region of Western Australia is a land of mountains and waterways. An amazing region to explore. Visit Albany Region
Denmark Region Denmark Region
The Denmark Region is gorgeous. Trees, hills, beaches, rocks, wildlife around the river and the inlet. Visit Denmark Region
Walpole Region Walpole Region
Walpole is the western end of the Rainbow Coast and is surrounded by National Park and forested wilderness. Visit Walpole Region

Main Attractions on the Coast:

Ocean Beach Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is set between the Wilson Inlet and the Great Southern Ocean, and is the closest beach to Denmark Town. A popular surfing spot and lookout.. Visit Ocean Beach
Greens Pool Greens Pool
Almost completely sheltered from the waves of the Great Southern Ocean, Greens Pool is a paradise. Visit Greens Pool
Elephant Rocks Elephant Rocks
Giant rocks shaped like elephants stand together facing into the waves of the Great Southern Ocean Visit Elephant Rocks
Mount Frankland Mount Frankland
Starting in the karri trees you wind up and through towards the summit of Mt Frankland way above the tree top canopy. Visit Mount Frankland
Two Peoples Bay NP Two Peoples Bay NP
Located approximately 25 kilometres north-east of Albany. Rediscovery of the presumed extinct noisy scrub-bird. Visit Two Peoples Bay NP
West Cape Howe National Park West Cape Howe National Park
Containing the southernmost point of Western Australia this national park is astounding. Visit West Cape Howe National Park
Shelley Beach Shelley Beach
Turquoise waters, verdant surrounds and ocean breeze make this beach a popular yet remote destination. Visit Shelley Beach
The Gap The Gap
An impressive rugged granite channel carved by the Great Southern Ocean waves crashing against the granite coastline forming a spectacular sheer drop of almost 25 metres. Visit The Gap
Natural Bridge Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge is a granite formation caused by the gradual wearing away of the rock by the Great Southern Ocean. Visit Natural Bridge
Brig Amity Replica Brig Amity Replica
Experience the first settlers arrival in Albany, the first settlement in Western Australia, from onboard a replica of the Amity. Visit Brig Amity Replica
Middleton Beach Middleton Beach
The most popular beach in Albany. Swim or relax under the trees. Cafes and amenities. Visit Middleton Beach
Little Beach Little Beach
This gorgeous beach is approximately 25 kilometres north east of Albany in Two Peoples Bay National Park. Visit Little Beach
Albany Wind Farm Albany Wind Farm
Beautiful and productive green energy from the wind of the Torndirrup, just outside Albany City towards Frenchman Bay. Visit Albany Wind Farm
Ancient Empires Walk Ancient Empires Walk
The Ancient Empires Walk takes you through the forest at the base of the Giant Tingle Trees at the Treetop Walk. Visit Ancient Empires Walk
Bibbulmun Track Bibbulmun Track
The Bibbulmun Track stretches from Kalamunda in the Perth hills to Albany, through many locations in the heart of the Rainbow Coast. Visit Bibbulmun Track
Denmark Wineries Denmark Wineries
Denmark Wineries and Vineyards to visit while on holiday along the Rainbow Coast. Wineries with restaurants, music, cellar doors and more! Visit Denmark Wineries
Frenchman Bay Frenchman Bay
Located on the southern side of King George Sound this beautiful setting has a grassy picnic area, BBQs and boat launch. Ideal beachfront location for a great day out! Visit Frenchman Bay
Giant Tingle Tree Giant Tingle Tree
This Giant Tingle Tree is special because it the oldest living eucalypt in the world. It is an 800 metre walk from the car park to the Giant Tingle and back. Visit Giant Tingle Tree
Lights Beach Lights Beach
Inspiring lookout and beach offering spectacular views of William Bay from the east. A favourite local beach. Visit Lights Beach
Mandalay Beach Mandalay Beach
Spectacular views to Chatham Island, gorgeous white sandy beach it is a must-see... sometimes the shipwreck is visible too. Visit Mandalay Beach
Misery Beach Albany Misery Beach Albany
Misery Beach is a hidden gem on the southern coast of Western Australia known for stunning natural beauty and a tranquil atmosphere. Visit Misery Beach Albany
Monkey Rock Monkey Rock
Spectacular elevated views over William Bay Nat. Park, Ratcliffe Bay, Ocean Beach and the Nullaki Peninsula. Visit Monkey Rock
Princess Royal Fortress Princess Royal Fortress
One of the best outdoor military museums in Australia. The Fortress is within the Albany Heritage Park, atop Mount Adelaide. Visit Princess Royal Fortress
Rainbows Rainbows
The coast is perfectly placed to see Rainbows! And perfectly named. Green trees, mountains, forests beaches, and winter rainbows. Visit Rainbows
South Coast Beaches Map South Coast Beaches Map
South Coast Beaches from west of Walpole to East of Albany all on one map! Visit South Coast Beaches Map
Valley of the Giants Valley of the Giants
The Valley of the Giants Wilderness Discovery Centre at the Treetop Walk is the most visited place on the Rainbow Coast. Visit Valley of the Giants