The Southern Right whales’ unique affinity for coastal inshore waters makes them the perfect species for land-based whale watching, and people can spend many hours viewing their playful antics. Sometimes the whales approach as close as 100m from shore, providing a bird’s eye view of their immense size and rotund, 18m body.
Southern Right whales visit Encounter Bay each winter between May and October, when they find the local waters to be relatively warmer than their summering grounds in the sub-Antarctic. The annual migration to South Australia is a key part of the whales’ breeding cycle. They come to either find a mate, or to give birth and raise their calves in the protected bays and coves. Encounter Bay has long been recognised as a breeding and nursery area for Southern Right whales, and plays a role in the recovery of this endangered species.
Last season Encounter Bay was visited by groups of courting adults (up to 3 or 4 at a time) and many mother and calf pairs. A calf, only 5m at birth, will stay close to its mother for the several months as it develops its swimming skills and gains an average of 90kg of weight each day.
There are multiple vantage points for land-based Whale Watching around Victor Harbor, accessible by car and within a few minutes of the township.