During the winter months in Australia, we have the incredible opportunity to spend time with one of the most inquisitive whales in the world, the Dwarf Minke. Known only from the southern hemisphere, these beautiful whales were only described by scientists in the 1980’s, and even today there is much to learn about them. Growing up to around 8 metres in length, the Dwarf Minke is a relatively small species of whale but is capable of swimming at high speeds. Like many other baleen whales the Dwarf Minke feeds in productive colder waters on small fish and krill. A trip north and into warm waters is most likely for breeding and raising calves, with newborn calves mostly seen between Victoria and Southern Queensland. Continuing north seems a habit for some of the whale population, perhaps to avoid predators and for the warmer waters benefiting the young calves. It is also possible that the Dwarf Minke will feed on aggregations of small fish in the Coral Sea while visiting our area. What we do know for sure is that an aggregation of Dwarf Minke whales is regularly found on the Northern Barrier Reef during our winter months, and this is the only reliable place in the world to see and interact with these beautiful creatures.
The Ribbon Reef area of the Great Barrier Reef is where the species first came to scientific attention, and over the last 30 years, we have learnt much from being able to observe these animals up close. Checking out humans seems to be something the Dwarf Minke enjoys and it is this curiosity that the species is best known. The whales’ habit of approaching boats and hanging out with divers and snorkelers means a lucky few in the right place at the right time get a phenomenal experience.
Onboard Aroona we have found some of the prime spots for seeing the Dwarf Minke, and our guests have been blown away by the curious nature as they will often swim up for a look and happily play around the boat for hours.
We can also identify individuals by observing the grey and white patches on their sides – these markings are unique to each whale. Snorkelers can hear the whales calls as well – grunts, moans and belches plus a distinctive Minke sound of 3 short pulses followed by a slight upsweep. The low frequency of these sounds travel a great distance underwater and may allow communication amongst a scattered group of the Dwarf Minkes.
There are guidelines in place to help ensure that interactions with whales are sustainable and safe. Aroona is one of the few vessels able to conduct trips within these guidelines and has limited availability during the prime season (July-August), so get in touch for your chance to be amongst the action in 2020.
Aroona operates out of Cairns and Port Douglas and is available for private charters to many destinations including the Whitsunday Islands, Lizard Island, Ribbons Reef, Osprey Reef, remote locations including Princess Charlotte Bay and Cape York. We are now also excited to offer Luxury Adventures to the Kimberley.
For enquiries and bookings contact – 0409 903 193 firstname.lastname@example.org