Whales hanging out at Smith Bay, Kangaroo Island

The shallow waters of Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island’s north shore have once again become a place of rest and relaxation for whales in recent weeks.

Yumbah Aquaculture general manager David Connell first noticed the latest visitors, three southern right whales, off his abalone farm on Monday morning, but they could have been there over the weekend.

The trio, consisting of a mother and a calf, as well as an older sub-adult, remained in the bay until Tuesday morning. The three stuck quite close together during the visit, he said.

The week before on August 19, there had been a pair of humpback whales hanging out in Smith Bay.

“It’s pretty obvious that it is after all a bit of a hang-out spot for the whales and every whale season we are seeing more individuals here,” Mr Connell said.

“Seeing the humpback whales in the shallows was special and maybe they feel safe here where there is less activity.”

Mr Connell said he hoped the whale visits where taken into account when authorities consider the Smith Bay seaport proposal being put forward by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers. 

KIPT managing director John Sergeant said the Commonwealth and State databases showed whales of various species occurring in winter at all points on the KI coastline.

“Various species of whale visit almost all sections of the KI coastline, including Smith Bay, notwithstanding the presence of an abalone farm,” Mr Sergeant said.

“They also visit Penneshaw, Kingscote and Vivonne Bay, which seems to indicate that whales do not avoid marine structures. Our forthcoming EIS goes into great detail about the care of marine mammals at Smith Bay, during construction and operation of the KI Seaport.”

Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch coordinator Tony Bartram said the Smith Bay whale sightings had now been logged with the SA Whale Centre.

The whale season off the Central Coast was just now taking off with 11 individuals sighted off Victor Harbor in the past week, and numerous southern right and humpback whales also spotted in Backstairs Passage.