The West

Humpbacks fail to draw a crowd
Sam Laurenson, Kiana Madden and Jackie McLeish (behind) with Jasmine and Jackie Laurenson, Jessie Towes and Tayah Madden after a whale watching adventure on Silver Star. Picture: Laurie Benson

While numbers of humpbacks are high this year, tourist numbers for Albany’s prime winter tourist activity – whale watching – are down.

Albany Whale Tours owner and skipper John Woodbury said visitor numbers were low, with “unexpected spikes”.

“The numbers have been the lowest since I started in the business,” he said. “The numbers are probably down because (whale watching) is considered non-essential spending.”

Mr Woodbury said it was hard to predict how many staff to roster for each day.

Albany Ocean Adventures owner and skipper Paul Guest said the first week of school holidays had good visitor numbers.

“People numbers are down a bit, which is sometimes to do with the weather,” he said.

“A lot of school holiday bookings are off the cuff, people just go into the visitor’s centre.

“We’re getting people from Perth coming down, we’re still getting a bit.”

Mr Guest said the number of whales seen also depended on the weather.

It was sometimes difficult to leave the protection of King George Sound on stormy days. Humpback whales, however, have been putting on a great show for whale watchers. “The sightings have been really good, we are averaging eight or nine whales a day,” Mr Woodbury said.

“The whales are showing high energy and excitement and their pods are growing in size.”

Mr Guest said he was mainly seeing humpacks, with a few southern right whales starting to appear at Two People’s Bay, Limestone Head, Ledge Beach and Caseys Beach.

No whales have come right in to Middleton Beach yet.

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