Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Humps, My Lovely Humpback Whales - Check it out!

The very immature and mean jokes I heard in school came frothing to the tip of my tongue yesterday, as I waited for Captain Jack (yes, his real name) to take us out to sea, in search of whales. "Yo Mama's so fat .... she had to go to Sea World to get baptised." I can't help myself. Clearly.

If you haven't had a chance to get this close to whales in the wild before then I highly recommend you do. For the last 13 years I've lived an hour away from one of the best whale sighting areas in the world, and only just went yesterday to see them. I grew up seeing the Orca Killer Whales at the Vancouver Aquarium. That was always the highlight of our family trips there, until they decided not to keep them in captivity any longer.  Fair enough. I've also spotted a whale from the balcony of my hotel in Maui once, and from the beach here in Newcastle that other time. But this experience was by far my favourite.

We boarded the Tamboi MV Spirit of Port Stephens at 10am. I think we got the best winter weather you could ask for.

 Fitting that it was National Sister's day, as my husband poses with 3 of his 5 sisters.

 Another wonderful outing that made me wish I'd remembered the monkey leash. This little guy would not even sit still for his beloved (Grand) Ma. Read more about the "leash" here. It was a 3 hour boat ride of taking turns wrangling this one.

 World War II Gun Emplacements - "Fort Tomaree included light stations, a radar tower, torpedo tubes, and barracks, where around 500 army, navy and air force personnel served."
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service -

 Photos won't do this justice. Captain Jack was able to manoeuvre the big vessel we were on right into this spot in the rocks. Mad Skills.

 (only  a small part of ) Our family - Aunty Judith and (Grand) Pa

 Right before my half monkey/half human son successfully managed to climb up to the second level, with the fearful assistance of his parents. I declared "We are never doing that again."

Finally spot our first Humpback. We saw 3 pods in total. Most of our time were spent near a mother and calf

I may have squealed like a dolphin in my excitement at spotting the whales. I'm pretty sure the whole boat heard me. Embarrassing, but I was too caught up in the moment. Plus I'm pretty sure I heard a whale trying to converse back with me. So there.

 One of my many attempts at holding my large 2 year old still (for his own safety).

When you can't catch a photo of a whale jumping out of the ocean you settle for a few whale tail shots. I love these!

These seals are sitting on the most protected island in NSW, Cabbage Tree Isl. If you set foot on it you will be fined $100,000. That's because it's the only breeding ground in the world, besides Boondelbah Islands, for the endangered bird Gould’s petrel.
When we headed back to the bay I decided it was a good time to make a sandwich. Sure enough, this big pod of Bottle Nose dolphins appeared starboard. (Notice my nautical speak there. You're super impressed, aren't you). You've never seen someone make egg salad sandwiches so quickly.

Captain Jack was kind enough to let Charlie have a go at "driving" the boat. Imagine if he knew it was actually on cruise control and his steering efforts were for naught. This was the most peace we had the whole time as it's all he wanted to do since we got onboard. Who cares about incredible humpback whales anyway?

Bucket list #204 checked off!

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