I’m not entirely sure what it is. Maybe it’s the gentle beauty that emanates from them. Maybe it’s their sheer size. Maybe it’s the unbelievable grace that they possess despite the fact that they weigh upwards of forty tons. Whatever it is, humans have been fascinated by whales for centuries. They play a massive part in some cultures, Maori in particular. A rather famous figure in Maori legend, Paikea, was said to have traveled across the ocean on the back of a whale. To me, it makes sense that they’d be held in such reverence and awe. After all, how could such a massive and incredible beast not make an impression on the human race?
So you can imagine that when I heard we’d be visiting the whale nursery at Logan’s Beach, Warrnambool during our trip along the Great Ocean Road, I was pretty excited. Each year, between July and September, female Southern Right Whales make their way to the shallows of Logan’s Beach to give birth and raise their calves. Believe it or not, the chilly waters of the Southern Australian coast are actually warm to them! Once the calves grow big enough to take to the open ocean, they migrate back towards Antarctica, where they can feed easily.
As we walked up to the viewing point, I craned my neck to see if there were any whales. What a disappointment it would be, if there weren’t! But we were in luck!
They looked like grey rocks against a dark blue ocean. A sudden movement, a spray of mist, and the rocks became whales. One… two… no, six females relaxing in the surf near the shore! And each of them with a playful calf! They were mesmerizingly beautiful. The calves frolicked near their mothers, who would occasionally roll over and raise their flippers into the air, almost like my Mom does when we get too exhausting. In reality, they were practicing a technique called “sailing” often seen among Southern Right Whales. Although with a maximum weight of 47 tons and a length of fifteen meters these ladies won’t be getting anywhere fast, they will often put up their flippers to catch the wind, and “sail.”
We sat watching them for quite a while. I don’t get bored easily, and I don’t think I could ever get tired of watching those magnificent creatures play in the surf. After all, it’s not every day you get to see whales up close!