Each year between May to October, whales migrate from polar waters to calve in cool temperate waters near the coast.
From May to October Southern Right Whales can be seen along the Great Ocean Road, sometimes approaching within 100 metres to shore providing hours of entertainment.
Each year, the coastline along the Otways plays host to 25 different species of migrating whales, including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas). Many of these whales breed here and socialise with each other before heading off to feed in sub-Antarctic waters. Southern Right Whales give birth to their calves in sheltered bays right along the south-west coast of Victoria.
Did you know that the Southern Right Whale is named because it was considered to be the ‘right’ whales to hunt as it swims slowly and is often close to the shoreline.
For up to date whale sightings and to log your sightings visit www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au where you can even subscribe to whale sighting alerts.
Each year, the coastline along the Otways plays host to 25 different species of migrating whales, including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas). Many of these whales breed here and socialise with each other before heading off to feed in sub-Antarctic waters.
Southern Right Whales give birth to their calves in sheltered bays right along the south-west coast of Victoria. Both whales and dolphins are Cetaceans – a group of marine mammals made up of baleen whales and toothed whales. Baleen is a fibrous, bristle-like substance used by whales to sieve small prey from the sea.
Status: Least Concern.
Omnivore: Also baleen whales, Humpbacks eat krill, plankton and small fish.
Weight: 40 tonnes.
Length: Males 14 metres, females 16 metres.
Lifespan: 45 to 100 years.
Populations: Humpbacks were heavily exploited by whaling from the 1920s-1950s in their Southern Ocean feeding grounds and tropical breeding grounds. They have shown evidence of a strong recovery towards their original numbers, which may have been up to100,000 (source: International Whaling Commission).
Did you know? Humpbacks use their massive tail fin to propel themselves through the water and sometimes out of it. These whales, like others, regularly leap from the water, landing with an enormous splash. Scientists aren’t sure if this breaching behaviour helps clean pests from their skin, or whether whales simply do it for fun.
Status: Endangered in some regions.
Carnivore: Orcas have teeth and eat seals, dolphins, other small whales, fish, sea birds and squid.
Weight: 5.5 tonnes.
Length: Males 10 metres, females 8.5 metres.
Lifespan: 50 to 90 years.
Populations: There may be fewer than 10,000 in Australian waters (source: Australian Government, Department of Environment).
Did you know? Orcas, or Killer Whales, are the largest of the dolphin family and one of the world’s most powerful predators. Orcas hunt in pods of up to 40 individuals. Communication between Orcas is visual, via touch and sound. Individuals are recognisable by their distinctive black, white and grey colouration. In the days of whale hunting, Orcas scavenged from whale carcasses left behind by the whalers.
Carnivore: Blue Whales are also baleen whales and eat krill.
Weight: Males 150 tonnes, females 180 tonnes.
Length: Males 31 metres, females 33.5 metres.
Lifespan: Possibly up to 80 years.
Populations: Although sadly remaining at very low levels (in the low thousands), encouragingly the available evidence reveals a growing population around 8 per cent per year (source: International Whaling Commission).
Did you know? The Blue Whale is the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much as 33 elephants. The blue whale has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Its stomach can hold one tonne of krill and it needs to eat about four tonnes of krill each day.
They are the loudest animal on Earth – even louder than a jet engine. Their calls reach 188 decibels, while a jet only reaches 140.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.