06th May, 2021

The annual whale migration takes place each year in Sydney between May and November, but this year is expected to be extra special.

It’s estimated that up to 38,000 whales will pass by Sydney Harbour this year, on their way to the Queensland tropics. The best part is that our city boasts some of the most likely spots for you to see Humpbacks, Minke, Orca or even Southern Right Whales as they migrate north while also putting on a spectacular show.

But before your whale watching trip on Sydney Harbour with Captain Cook Cruises, there’s a couple of things you should expect from your first trip.

Expect Sydney's best Whale Watching season ever

The Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) is currently running their East Coast Whale Migration Research Project, which began on June 1 and will run until July 31.

The project involves volunteers counting whales from vantage points all over NSW and first reports are after the census on June 28, this year is going to be one of the best Humpback seasons on record.

Never has there been a better opportunity to catch a spectacular whale breach while on board Captain Cook Cruises with Sydney’s iconic Heads as a backdrop.

Expect a "mugging"

One of the best things you can expect when whale watching is a ‘mugging’.

NSW law stipulates that our boat can’t get closer than 100 metres of a whale and 300 metres if a calf is present. However, if the whale approaches the boat there is nothing our captain can do but turn off the engines and wait for the whale to pass - hence the general term ‘mugging’ which leaves us stranded in awe!

The best thing about this type of mugging is that you’ll certainly come away richer from this experience.

Expect to see more than just whales

Don’t think your entire 2.5 hours on our Whale Watching cruise will be spent behind a pair of binoculars gazing aimlessly out to the horizon.

While our primary objective is to get you to see a whale, on most cruises you’ll also be treated to an abundance of marine wildlife that call this unique ecosystem home. Bottlenose dolphins are a relatively common sight along the entire NSW coastline, as are both Australian fur seals and Fairy Penguins that use Sydney Harbour as a hunting ground.

Dolphins swimming towards the heads wildlife non-ccc dnsw

Everything you need to know about Whale Watching

Dr. Vanessa Pirotta, wildlife scientist and science communicator, has been one of our experts onboard Captain Cook Cruises' Whale Watching cruises. On the video below, she explains whale behaviours and everything you need to know about Whale Watching. Be sure to check it out.

Experiences mentioned in this article

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