Whales - Head of the Bight, Nullabor Plain
Head a couple of hours due West from Adelaide by air or about a thousand kms by road and you'll come across one of the world's biggest playgrounds. It's the Head of the Bight on South Australia's remote Nullabor Plain. And it's big because it has to be the young ones who play here weigh in at about a tonne a piece. It's a sanctuary for Australia's Southern Right Wales. No one really knows why but they arrive here every June and stay till October. It's where they breed, give birth and teach their calves the ways of the ocean. "Ah the season started off quiet, now she's starting to pick up a bit you can see others there now." Jeremy Lebois is a guide with the Yalata Aboriginal Community. It's his job to help the 10,000 or so travellers who now stop here every year as part of the growing trend towards eco-tourism. Recently erected viewing platforms now take you to within 10 metres of the action - an awesome experience and apparently not just for the visitors. "We've notice that when you get say five or more people on the platform, that whales will recognise them on there and swim across to them. It makes it happy for the visitors and the whales are happy too to see them here." And as usual the whales are confounding the experts.
This is supposed to be a quiet season because of a lull in the whales breeding cycles every three years. But it's been anything but according to Ian Westhorpe and Heather Michelmore, They're helping with a 10 year study of the whales and are worth a chat if you spot them among the rugged cliffs. They say recently more and more Southern Rights have been arriving unexpectedly at the Bight. There are now around 80. Well the benefits are to determine whether the actual breeding population is increasing, stable, decreasing. At the moment the estimated for Australia is the population is increasing around about between seven to nine per cent, which is a very good figure. Already this season about 29 whales have been born here at the head of the bight, they'll spend the next three or four months swimming under the protection of the cliffs an area dubbed by researchers as the nursery, by then they'll be fit enough to join the rest of the whales on their annual migration to the South. The Nullabor Roadhouse is about 20 minutes down the road offering accommodation, take away food and a full restaurant. It costs $7 to enter the park. Accommodation at the Nullabor Roadhouse is $78 a double, $12 for powered caravan sites or $8 from campers.
Join Keith when he explored the Head of the Bight - Whales in 1999
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