The Whale Watching Augusta Season 2018 started today and within moments of leaving the Augusta Boat Harbour we sighted a blow straight ahead! Excitedly we anticipated the moment we would meet this young whale and our first Humpback interaction in Augusta after a year of patiently waiting for their arrival back in Flinders Bay. Rolling around at the surface we met a very relaxed Humpback who was deliberately pushing through the large clumps of seaweed that were floating close by. During the long summer months feeding in Antarctica the skin of Humpback Whales will be scattered with whale lice, barnacles and a type of algae that grows on the skin and has a yellowish appearance.
Understandably, the Humpback Whales on their northern migration would be very itchy! The whale we met today was certainly using the seaweed to her advantage and getting a good scrub along her back, belly and pectoral fins. Looking carefully at the images above you can actually see the brown clusters of whale lice on her back that will hopefully lessen in numbers as she migrates into warmer, northern waters. Many whale species will move into warmer waters when their skin parasite levels get too high and it is these "maintenance migrations" that keeps them in the best of health and looking squeaky clean. The rain clouds today provided plenty of beautiful rainbows and some lovely photo opportunities while we noticed a few tiny Wilson Storm Petrels flying close to the whales as they surfaced and a large juvenile Australasian Gannet carefully scanning for a mid morning snack. The local Bottlenose Dolphins also made a very quick pass and we will be keeping a close eye open for them tomorrow!