WHALE season has arrived early in Portland with several sightings off the coast at Cape Bridgewater and from the shore of the city harbour over the weekend.
One or possibly more southern right whales have been spotted in Portland Bay since Thursday as the mammals of the deep gradually make their way to their preferred nursery site at Logans Beach, east of Warrnambool.
Portland-based fisherman and photographer Bob McPherson said the southern rights had arrived earlier than usual with eagle-eyed whale watchers able to spot the creatures with a little time and patience.
“There’s always a lot of interest about the first sightings, who’s seen which whale where and at what time,” Mr McPherson said.
“Rumours get spread about seeing them here, there and everywhere but I’m pretty confident there’s at least one in the Portland Bay area.
“I understand there were a couple spotted off the coast near Tyrendarra way, also across near Lady Julia Percy Island (off the Yambuk beach).
“Once they’re sighted in those areas, it’s not too long before they’re spotted around the Logans Beach area.”
Southern rights migrate to the Logans Beach area most years between late May and early August, giving birth within days of arrival. Whale calves are usually reared by their mothers for a few months before departing in late September.
All travel guides covering Warrnambool cite whale watching at Logans Beach as one of the city’s top attractions, with numbers visibly increasing at the tourist information centre once whales are first seen in the region.
“There are plenty of people that will drive hours to come to Warrnambool on the off-chance of seeing whales. You’d be surprised,” Mr McPherson said.
“Sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are to have this happen each year.”