Visiting UK doctor Vaughan Keeley had a whale of a wildlife experience this week and not one he was expecting on Kangaroo Island.
He and his Australian friends from Adelaide spotted a humpback whale breaching enthusiastically off Cape d’Estaing at Emu Bay about 8am on Monday morning, November 26.
His friends have a fishing boat so they sped out to get a bit closer, stopping a respectable distance away, as required by whale-watching regulations.
They watched the single, adult humpback whale frolic away for what seemed like eternity but was probably half an hour, Dr Keeley said.
“It was an amazing experience, absolutely incredible,” he said.
He was able to capture amazing images of the whale with Cape d’Estaing in the background using his new 400mm lens.
There were other social media reports of the whale on Monday and the local Jamieson family saw a whale off Cape d’Estaing about three weeks ago that they thought was a humpback too.
Humpback whale sightings off Kangaroo Island are becoming increasingly common as the population recovers from whaling.
There were several reports of humpbacks travelling and breaching in the backstairs passage off Penneshaw this whale season.
Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch coordinator Tony Bartram said it was no so unusual to see humpbacks off Kangaroo Island this late in the year.
Because their migration pattern was less defined than that of the southern right whale, and simply because their numbers were increasing every year.
“Unfortunately that’s not the case for the southern right whales and we don’t know why,” Mr Bartram said.
The two distinct populations of east and west coast humpback whales were not only recovering but the movements were also changing, with some thinking changing ocean conditions meant they were staying off the Australian coast but further out for longer periods, he said.
Dr Keeley is medical doctor from Derby in the British Midlands that specialises in lymphedema.
This is his second visit to Emu Bay and Kangaroo Island, travelling over only last year.
He enjoys the natural beauty of the Island and photographing the wildlife, but is not so keen on fishing as his Adelaide friends.
“It’s such a nice place, I just had to come back,” Dr Keeley said.
If you observe whales of any kind; southern rights, humpbacks, blues etc, please report sightings to the South Australian Whale Centre on 8551 0750 or online at www.sawhalecentre.com.au