The whales leave the feeding and breeding grounds of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica in winter, and travel north to the warm waters of the Kimberley region where they give birth to live young.
They suckle their calves, in the protected waters of Camden Sound Marine Park, the “maternity ward” for around 35,000 humpback whales. Calves are nurtured in the tropical waters while they build up strength for the 3000km+ journey back to the Antarctic.
Then in spring we see humpback whales in Geographe Bay and along the Cape to Cape coast. By this stage the whales have had their young, and as they are often travelling with a calf on the southern migration they tend to stay much closer to the shore than they do when heading north.
The whales follow the continental shelf, hugging the coast as they travel south through the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, playfully breaching, diving and showing off their water-skills. They often come so close to shore that you can see them with binoculars or the naked eye from several lookout points.
The southerly ocean current hugs the coast, so they tend to do a clockwise tour of Geographe Bay, passing Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste.
Whale watching tours of Geographe Bay depart Dunsborough and Busselton from the beginning of September to mid December.
Hear the male humpback whales’ songs in the BBC video below.