Patting A Wild Hump Back Whale

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Getting Mugged By A Hump Back Whale

We were in the South West of Western Australia for my very good friend Lainy's wedding. It is a spectacular slice of Australia and we decided to take a few extra days and head further south to visit some other great friends in Dunsborough.


Most people know Dunsborough and Margaret River as surfing and wine country which it is, however the marine life that is in and around that area is always spectacular. Our friends Mark and Marina have two small daughters and we had spent a day or two catching up with family and friends and decided to take the girls out in the boat and try to see some whales on the horizon.

It was flat calm, which anyone that has been to this part of WA knows that while rare at that time of the year, it is spectacular. The water is so blue, the beaches are so glamorous and it seemed like an ideal way to spend the afternoon. So in goes the ski boat and out we go.

We idled around about 1km off shore for about an hour and couldn't even see a spout on the horizon so gave up and cracked the champagne. Why the hell not hey? We had been chatting for about half an hour I guess when about 200m from the boat we saw a whale crack the surface . We were so excited. SO excited. A whale that close – OMG!

Getting mugged by a whale off Dunsborough in Western Australia
A whale tail in the distance

Brad was sitting on the duck board at the back of the boat and started splashing the water joking he was calling the whale. Yeah – right Brad, but whatever it was, the whale started to come closer.

He (and that is a sexist assumption I now) was so curios about us and over the next 20-30 minutes got closer and closer to these strange humans inside a fibreglass bath tub. He got to the point he would dive down under the boat and surface on the other side looking at us and getting closer and closer every time.

Closer and closer… Closer and closer…

We were frigging beside ourselves by this time. He was clearly really interested in who or what we were and by this stage was surfacing and then turning to look at us.

So – here is our whale getting closer and closer and then finally comes up right alongside the boat. I mean brushing the side of the boat and do you know what happened next?

Mark and I just reached over and patted his nose.

A whale.

In the wild.

We patted a whale in the wild.

A whale that found us. A whale that chose to investigate us. A whale who chose to connect with us.

My Whale - Dunsborough WA
My Whale – Dunsborough WA

5 years later, I”m still sitting here grinning like an idiot. I patted a wild whale.

It was and will always be one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I'm the original greenie and would never ever risk an animals life buy trying to interact with it, so to have this whale instigate the contact and actually approach us was, to me, one of the purest things on earth.

It was absolutely spectacular. He hung around for about another 20 mins and then decided we were boring after all and moisied off. As you can imagine we were all stunned and ecstatic at the same time.

Mark has spent his entire life on the water. He was a pearl diver, a cray fish diver and still spends every day on the water working and surfing. Driving home, he would call one of his friends, ask them if they knew anyone who had patted a whale in the wild. As soon as they said no, he replied “well you do now!” and would immediately hang up and call someone else.

Of all the people we could have been with, of all the times it could have happened, I'm so very grateful that it was Mark and Marina, Emma and Maia.

To see my own child like wonder reflected in Marks reaction enforced to me just how spectacular a world we really live in. No matter what we see or do, its always mother nature that blows our mind.

The look on Mark's face when we realised we could reach out and touch the whale. I will never forget that.

The whale I patted off Dunsborough Western Australia
The whale I patted off Dunsborough Western Australia

Just remember: Never ever ever risk the health of any animal by trying to force an interaction. Never corner a wild animal. Always Always respect your surroundings and no matter what happens stay calm. If we had of started the boat and tried to leave we would have risked the whales life and our own, and would have not have been mugged by a whale.

Whale Tours From South West WA

Whale tours run seasonally from Dunsborough, Busselton, Perth and Mandurah.



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