Humpback Highway Gold Coast
With the Whale migration starting on the Gold Coast within a couple of weeks (May 2013) we will be able to see the aerobatic display of the Humpback Whales as the head north along the Humpback Highway towards their breeding and birthing region. Whales are incredible at navigation. They have been traced by GPS tracking systems and shown to cross oceans within 1 degree on a compass of their track from last year. On their way up the coast line with the young males leading we are treated to the tail slapping breaching and spyhopping. If you are able to listen under water with a hydrophone you can also hear them singing away almost nonstop!
Where to find The Humpback Highway on the Gold Coast
When the Humpbacks are passing the Gold Coast they use what is commonly known as the HUMPBACK HIGHWAY. This is like a road which the whales swim along. The large mammals turn a corner at the Queensland New South Wales border ,Point Danger, and change course towards the tip of North Stradebroke Island, Point Lookout. This course take them past the Gold Coast with the majority of pods staying on the humpback highway. As they pass Surfers Paradise the whales are found 5.5 - 8 NM off the beach where the water is a depth of around 50 meters. There are whales in close to shore as well with one female giving birth at the Gold Coast Seaway in July 2012. When we leave the Gold Coast seaway enroute to the Humpback Highway we often see humpbacks breaching behind the breakers.
Humpback Highway whale traffic and speed
During the course of the migration the whales will travel at different speeds along the Humpback Highway. I have witnessed many pods of whales over the last few years and they are individual in their speed of travel. Some are seeming to be on the job of migrating to the Great Barrier Reef as quickly as possible and these whales are in pods of 2 - 15 whales. They cruise north at speeds of 6-10 knts (10 -15 km/h) with a goal of the reef. Then you will have on the same day one whale who just wants to play and show off, these whale are usualy traveling slowly along the humpback highway, some times in the wrong direction for a mile or so to met with other pods. Then there is the mother and calf, they travel slow with the calf mucking up and the mother leading the way down the humpback highway. Off the Gold Coast we have whales traveling both north and south for a short period of time and there is a lot of stopping to say hello on the humpback highway with large breaches and tail slapping.