Whale Watching

Whale watching in south australia

During the cooler months, the South Australian coastline becomes nursery grounds for the majestic Southern Right Whales who gather in our pristine waters as they feed their young ready for their long journey back to the Antarctic Waters., 

 Sightings of these majestic creatures usually begin around June through to September, with thousands of visitors adorning the Fleurieu coastline to spot a Southern Right Whale.

Whale Spotting Locations

Whales often can be spotted along the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula coastline. Along the coast there is a myriad of whale watching hotspots and lookouts that provide uninterrupted views of the ocean.  Visit us at 2 Railway Terrace today to pick up your copy of the Whale Watching Map. 

Whale Watching Tips

Whale Watching allows you to reconnect with nature and experience the beauty and grace of these underwater mammals.  We have compiled some handy whale watching hints and tips to make the most of your whale watching experience.

Know Your Locals

The Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) is one of the most common whales found in South Australian waters. Southern Right Whales are grey to black in colour, with white growths on their head known as callosities. They often have white patches on their belly known as “blazes” and have no dorsal fins, unlike other whale species.

Southern Right Whales are a baleen whale, which means they filter their food through sieve like structure in their mouth, then using their tongue to lick the microscopic krill and plankton which remain.

Like most baleen whales Southern Right Whale have two blow holes which give distinctive V-shaped blow. They are a large creature measuring up to 17 metres long, with paddle shaped flippers. Southern Right Whales visit the South Australian shores from June to September to birth and care for their calves in our sheltered waters.

Which Whale?

You can identify whale species by their differing features.  Did you know a Southern Right Whale has a distinctive V shaped blow, white growths on them called callosities, short square paddle shaped flippers and no dorsal fin. Whereas, a Humpback whale has two blowholes angled together to create a tall cloud like blow. They have thinner elongated pectoral flippers and very small knobs on the top of head. Humpback whales generally are coloured from dark brown to black with white on their underside. They have throat grooves known as rorquals, that expand when the whale takes in food. Upon their backs they have a very small humplike dorsal fin which give them the name Humpback Whales.

Be Prepared

Whales can be illusive, so always be prepared.  Keep a spare pair of binoculars in your car, and your phone or camera at the ready, and be sure monitor our social media channels for the most up to date whale sighting information.

Know Your Directions

Whales are often reported in the direction of which they are travelling. So always remember the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Learn Your Whale Watching Terminology

Southern Right Whales show a variety of various behaviours from breaching to Spyhopping and Body Rolling. Southern Right Whales eyes are set low down upon the side of their head to allow them to monitor the surroundings below. In order to view the world above them, Southern Right Whales raise their head up above the waterline to view at their surroundings this is referred to as Spyhopping. Whales at times may also lay upside down, rolling on the surface using their pectoral fins for balance. many whales do this in order to rest, however females may exhibit this behaviour when avoiding the demands of a hungry calf, or the advances a male  during courtship.

Find a Good Vantage Point

Find yourself a good vantage point to be able to monitor your surroundings and give you a better view of the surrounding ocean. Some of the best vantage points along our coastline are listed in our whale watching map. Physical copies of map are available from the SA Whale Centre.
Whale Spotters from Basham Beach in Middleton

Be Patient

Whale Watching is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy the beauty of coastline. It can often take time to see the whales display such feats of athleticism, so sit back and relax while you wait. 

Rules and Regulations

Personal watercraft (such as jet skis) are prohibited from launching and operating within the Victor Harbor Restricted Area during whale season from May 1 to Sept 30.   In all other waters and at all other times, they must keep a distance of 300 metres from all marine mammals including whales, dolphins, seals etc. Any other vessel within the Encounter Bay Restricted Area must not get within 300 metres of a whale and must not fish in the restricted area. From land you may get any closer than 30 metres to any marine mammal. Aircraft (including Remote Piloted Aircraft such as drones) must maintain a minimum distance of 300 metres from whales. In addition, aircraft at the minimum distance must not hover over the animal and whales must not be approached by Remote Piloted Aircraft from the front. Whether on land, in the air or on water, be sure to know your limits whilst whale watching this season.
Encounter Bay and Victor Harbor Restricted Areas