Humpback Whales on the Great Barrier Reef

great barrier reef humpback whale

It’s that time of the year again as Humpback Whales start their annual migration north from the colder waters of the Southern Ocean south of Australia. Soon they will be wallowing in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas and Cairns.

If you’re planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, departing from either Port Douglas or Cairns this winter, you’ve got a good chance of seeing these amazing marine giants!

humpback whales port douglas | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Pods of Southern Humpback Whales migrate approximately 10,000km each year from Antarctic waters to the warm waters of the Coral Sea for mating and birthing. Humpback whales give birth in the safe warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef as young calves have little body fat and would not survive in the icy waters of the Antarctic. This is also a time for mothers and calves to bond while calves learn essential survival skills in tropical waters before facing the challenges of the Southern Ocean as youngsters.

Humpback whales tend to visit northern Great Barrier Reef waters for a couple of months, generally between May and August, before starting the journey back to Antarctic waters.

humpback whales port douglas | Thala Beach Nature Reserve
The exact timing of the migration period can vary from year to year depending on water temperature, sea ice, predation risk, prey abundance and the location of their feeding ground. The majority of humpbacks in Australian waters migrate north during winter and return south as the temperatures down south start warming. Groups of young males typically lead the migration while pregnant cows and cow-calf pairs bring up the rear. Adult breeding animals form the bulk of the migration in the middle stages.

Tours to the Great Barrier Reef can be booked through our Adventure Desk once you arrive at Thala. We can help plan your day trips to ensure you have the best possible opportunity to enjoy ideal conditions on your cruise. All Port Douglas tour operators will pick up guests at Thala so you won’t need to worry about anything except to ensure your camera battery is fully charged!

humpback whales port douglas | Thala Beach Nature Reserve

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