Daily Whale Sightings 

All daily whale sighting reports courtesy of Moonshadow-TQC Cruises

All photos courtesy of Imagine Cruises

Date: 28/10/2022

On this morning’s cruise aboard Spirit of Port, they came across a mother and calf between Fingal Island and Boondelbah island.  They were both navigating south and then north.  A few pods of Common Dolphins decided to join the vessel with bow riding. 

Date: 25/10/2022

This afternoon on the Hinchinbrook Explorer we had the privilege of seeing one lone whale.

With whale season finishing on the 31/10/2022 they are now pretty well home,  with a couple still coming through giving the last of the whale show of the season.

Date: 21/10/2022

During this morning’s cruise a mother and calf were sighted with the calf breaching and entertaining with tail lobs offshore Fingal Lighthouse.  While travelling back into the bay, 2 pods of Common Dolphins and 1 big pod of Oceanic Dolphins joined the vessel Hinchinbrook Explorer.

Date: 20/10/2022

Onboard this morning’s cruise a mother and calf Humpback Whale were sighted at Box Beach with the calf’s entertainment of breaches, head lunges and tail lobs.  Surface time of 1 hour or more and close encounters with the vessel Hinchinbrook Explorer.  3 other pods were seen consisting of 2 or 3 Whales in each pod. 

Date: 18/10/2022

The Humpback Whales sighted during our morning whale watch cruise have needed to share the limelight with a massive pod of Off Shore Common Dolphins, there would have been 150-200 in the pod. Just an amazing sight to witness!

But not to forget about the whales, we have also spent time with a mum and calf pair straight out through the headland at Shoal Bay. As we approached the calf breached just the once, and then became quiet and appeared to be resting quietly on the surface of the water.

Date: 17/10/2022

Spring is in the air at Port Stephens, with beautiful blue sky days and warm sunshine in abundance!

Today was a day for Humpback calves. Hinchinbrook Explorer has spotted a mother and calf pair close to the Yaccaba headland, they were fairly quiet and perhaps resting a bit, so the vessel has cruised towards Little Island to find another three Humpback Whales with the pod consisting of a Humpback mum, calf and another female escort heading south bound. The little calf was very active displaying an array of behaviours from tail slapping, tail lobbing, pec slapping, head lunges and breaching too.Before heading for home we have stopped to see the seals on Cabbage Tree Island, and here have also located a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins.

We have also had a successful afternoon of whale watching with the crew on the Hinchinbrook Explorer finding a pod of three whales near Bondelbar Island, with another mum, calf and escort. The calf was full of energy at one point breaching its body right out of the water and pec slapping. Mum and baby have then in unison started tail slapping creating lots of white water splashing. The escort has broken away from the pod and appeared to head in a northerly direction, while the Humpback mum and her calf continued swimming south bound.

Date: 14/10/2022

Today the passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer had two pods to choose from inside Fingal Island.  After following one pod consisting of a mother and baby they entertained with double tail slapping, completed a -turn and headed north.

Date: 13/10/2022

With a warmer day temp but still overcast conditions the crew set off for the morning Whale watch cruise.

The morning stated with a bang with lots of whales around but that sometimes can be harder because you need to choose the best pod to watch.

After evaluating the pods around the crew decided the best viewing was from a single mother and calf. The mother has the sole responsibility to teach the calf the tricks of the trade and today she did. We got to see Finn waving, Finn Slaps, Tail Lobs and great surface time.

Unfortunately no full breaching but they put on a show none the less.

Date: 7/10/2022

The crew onboard our 10am whale watch cruise have located two pairs of Humpback Whale mothers and their calves near to the Fingal Island Lighthouse this morning. We have spent quite a bit of time with the four whales as they played in the shallow water around the island, the calves were very active with a lot of behaviours on display including breaching, double breaching, tail slaps, fin slap, tail lobs and head lunges. Cruising back in through the headland at Yacabba we have viewed a large pod of dolphins surfing the waves.

We have had a very successful afternoon of whale watching aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer, we have not had to travel too far out through the headland at Shoal Bay to located a pod of south bound Humpback Whales. Our crew have reported being surrounded by a large pod of six adult Humpback Whales at one point, with whales hugging each side of the vessel.

Date: 4/10/2022

During this morning’s cruise, passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer experienced calm seas and came across a mother and baby heading south with dives of 45 minutes.  Two other whales were spotted further away and decided to breach whilst the vessel was heading back into dock.

During the afternoon cruise 2 pairs of mother’s and calves were sighted inside Fingal Island tail lobbing, pec and tail slapping with breaching for quote some time.  On the return journey into the harbour Bottlenose dolphins joined the cruise.

Date: 3/10/2022

As the whales continue to make their journey south our passengers are getting to see a lot of action on the high seas.  Today’s morning cruise passengers saw two pods of whales.  One group spent a lot of time travelling, spending little time on the surface. However, the second pod was very active, doing tail lobs, tail dives and spending good surface time close to the boat.   On the return trip home passengers had a good show of dolphins swimming at the bow of the boat.

Date: 29/09/2022

Our morning cruise passengers were given a great show when an adult whale totally ‘mugged’ our Hinchinbrook Explorer vessel.  It spent a long time alongside the boat, giving passengers plenty of photo opportunities to capture that ‘once in a lifetime’ shot.

Our afternoon whale watch cruise saw 2 groups of Mother and Calves.  Lots of showing off with tail lobs, breaches and tail slaps.

Did anyone capture the sneaky leopard seal sunning itself on Shoal Bay beach today?

Date: 28/09/2022

Aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer’s morning cruise, the passengers were entertained by 3 pods of Whales.  1 pod consisted of a mother, calf and escort with pectoral fin and tail slapping with good surface time.  About 50 Common Dolphins were sighted offshore and as they came into the harbour, Bottlenose Dolphins were playing in the bay.

Aboard the Spirit of Port’s morning cruise, again 3 pods were sighted with the first pod in about 30m water depth consisting of a mother and calf heading south east.  The second pod also had a mother and calf with the mother nursing the calf in shallow water with good surface time.  The third pod was a mother and calf spotted between Cabbage Tree Island and Yacaaba Head with the calf practicing it’s tail slapping.  The vessel was joined with a small pod of Common Dolphins.

This afternoon’s cruise had a calf breaching each side of the vessel as they were about to make their way through the headland.

Date: 27/09/2022

The crew on the Hinchinbrook Explorer have described their experience during the morning whale watch cruise as the Humpback Whales ‘cuddling the boat’ The whales spent 45 minutes to an hour circling the boat. They were extremely inquisitive, eying the side of the vessel, diving under and checking out beneath the surface of the water. Even rolling about in the water eying off the passengers watching from above. Such an amazing encounter! 

Date: 26/09/2022

The Humpback mum and their calves are traveling along the Port Stephens coastline just in time for the NSW spring school holidays. We have spotted our first mum and bub pair in the shallow water close to Fingal Island this morning. The calf spent a fair amount of time being quite active, breaching and head lunging. At one point the calf has taken quite an interest in a passing pod of Common Dolphins was swimming after the dolphins. We have then moved onto the second pod of the morning of another Humpback mum and calf who were traveling along with an escort. This calf was seen keenly waving its tail (ok maybe just splashing about) to the passengers onboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer. Before heading back home to the d’Albora Marina we have cruised past Cabbage Tree Island to say hello to the seals residing on the island.

During our afternoon whale watch cruise we have cruised toward Boondelbah Island where we have located a pod of two Humpback Whales; mum and her calf. The calf was nice and active showing off by pec slapping, rolling around on the surface of the water, breaching and at one stage slapping their tail on the surface of the water creating lots of white water splashes.

As we have cruised for home we have been joined by a pod of Common Dolphins swimming the bow wave at the front of the vessel.

Date: 25/9/2022

School has been in session for a Humpback Whale Calf during our morning whale watch cruise. The young half was practicing their breaching technique with mum closely watching on. At one point the calf had its body completely mid air sideways to the surface of the water. Spectacular 

Date: 24/9/2022

Perseverance paid off with the crew and skipper aboard this morning’s Whale Watching Cruise with 3 Whales found in time before heading back to shore.  The pod consisted of 2 adults and 1 calf who was very active learning the behaviours obviously from mum and the female escort with lots of tail slapping. 

Date: 21/9/2022

Today the passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer were spoilt with 1 pod consisting of 6 Whales on a heat run.  There was lots of surface time, breaches and jostling with each other close to the vessel. 

Date: 18/9/2022

Sunday mornings spent on the water at Port Stephens does not get much better than the smell of spring in the air! Luck has been on our side as the Hinchinbrook Explorer cruised out through the headland at Shoal Bay today, as we have quickly come across a pod of three Humpback Whales consisting of a mum and her calf and an adult escort. The trio was a little hard to track and they swam about in a circular motion so we have left this pod and continued cruising towards Fingal Island. We have spotted the second pod of the day just inside Fingal Island. This pod had five to six mature adults with all whales swimming north east, perhaps a late run at the northern migration for this pod. At one point the whales swam in nice and close to the vessel giving all our passengers a good view.

In the distance we can also see another pod of about three whales that are pec and tail slapping, making lots of white water splashes.

Date 16/9/2022

What happens when a whale notices a photographer onboard a whale watch cruise – well we can report the adult whale that the crew saw on the morning cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer was very happy to show off breaching time and time again, even throwing in a few powerful head lunges just for good measure. 

Date : 15/9/2022

With an overcast sky and a cooler day the crew where determined to make the most of it.

Once clearing Port Stephens Heads (Mt Tomaree and Yacaaba) they found a total of 6 Pods but they soon worked out that the pod included a mum and calf, which out of all the whales in the pod, were spending the most amount of  time on the surface of the water.

Once established with the pod the crew observed lots of rolling and playful action by the calf. The calves are amazing to watch as they learn all their behaviours from mum and just have energy to burn.

Date 30/8/2022

The passengers today aboard the Spirit of Port on the morning cruise were entertained with 2 medium to large Whales heading south bound.  They were logging which is a behaviour they exhibit when at rest and appear like “logs”.  It is lying without forward movement at the surface of the water with the dorsal fin or parts of the back exposed.  On the return trip 14 seals were spotted sleeping on the rocks.

During the afternoon cruise 6 Humpback Whales were sighted on the eastern side of Bondelah and followed them to Final Island.  There was a heat run in action with fin tail slapping, lobbing and a breach near the boat.

Date: 28/8/2022

What a spectacular sunny Sunday Port Stephens has turned on for our whale watch cruises today. Our morning cruise aboard MV Spirit of Port Stephens has cruised straight out through the headland to where the ocean depth is around 80-100 metres. We have located a pod of two Humpback Whales, one being considerably larger than the other whale. The pair of whales were a joy to watch as they have swam in nice and close to the vessel, moving around each side to on the bow, both whales were very relaxed rolling in the water slapping their pec fins, the occassional tail flick and even showing off with a couple of breaches.

As we have turned to head home towards Nelson Bay we have come across a huge pod of Oceanic Dolphins – there must have been over 100 dolphins! Some of the dolphins have surfaced the pressure wave on the side of the vessel having a great time jumping and leaping clear of the water. We also stumbled upon a seal just swimming in the middle of the ocean who looked to be catching fish for his lunch.

Oh my gosh, our passengers on the afternoon cruise have encountered a very active Humpback Whale near to Cabbage Tree Island with a lot more pods of south bound whales within seeing distance of the boat. Passengers were treated to an amazing display of breaches, head lunges and more within only about 50 meters from the Spirit of Port. On our way back through the headland we have located a pod of local Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins at the base of the Yaccaba Headland.

Date: 27/8/2022

The crew report from the Hinchinbrook Explorer today ‘Whales in every direction’ with several pods sighted within viewing distance of the vessel. As we come towards the end of August we are seeing a cross over in direction of which whales are traveling with the late runners still being sighted heading north bound towards Queensland, while we are also begining to see whales heading south bound along the Port Stephens coastline.

The pods seen during our morning whale watch cruise have consisted of two to three whales in each pod with some pods swimming north, while other pods could be seen heading south past Fingal Island.


Date: 26/8/2022

Passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer have enjoyed time spent with a pod of three Humpback Whales during our morning whale watch cruise. All three whales were seen to have good surface time on the water giving everyone a good viewing of these magestic mammals. We even had a bit of interaction between a pod of the off shore Common Dolphins in amongst the pod of whales at one point.

The crew have picked up of pod of two or three Humpback Whales heading south bound past the Fingal Island Lighthouse. We were lucky to have a bit of action of display from this pod with the whales breaching much to everyone’s delight.

Date: 22/8/2022

Port Stephens has turned on a magnificent day for whale watching off shore, with nice and calm seas and brilliant blue skies.

Our passengers on the morning cruise have located two pods of Humpback Whales, one pod consisting of two whales and the other a single whale. Both pods were swimming in a southerly direction near to Boondelbah Island, with the whales approaching quite close to the vessel at times. We also spotted lots of splashing from a fair distance with another pod tail lobbing further off shore.

Date: 19/8/2022

This morning a juvenile and mother Whale were spotted heading south.

During the afternoon cruise, offshore Fingal Island was the place to be where all the action was happening with Dolphins and 3 pods of Whales to the south.

The passengers were entertained by 1 pod of Whales close to the vessel with head lunges and tail lobs.

Date: 18/8 /2022

How lucky were the passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer this morning…..one large Humpback Whale was about 50m to 100m from the boat completing lots of tail dives.

On the return journey, they visited Cabbage Island with plenty of sleepy seals to be seen lazing around and a group of Dolphins were playful jumping at Yacaaba.

Date: 16/8/2022

On this morning’s Whale Watching Cruise the Hinchinbrook Explorer located several pods of whales with a group changing directions several times between north and south.  At one point the vessel was sandwiched between two pods with the view on the right hand side only metres from the display of breaches and slow tail dives.  While offshore Common Ocean Dolphins were sighted and when entering the heads we were visited by the Bottlenose Dolphins.

During the afternoon one whale was heading north and conducted a big breach about 20 metres from the vessel with several passengers receiving the affects of the splash!  Again lots of Dolphins were spotted and several birds consisting of a white breasted Sea Eagle and Pectorals.

Date: 11/8/2022

With the temperatures being a little on the chilly side the crew rugged up and cruised out off shore.

Not long after entering the Humpback highway the crew spotted a few different pods totalling 10 Whales in all.  After assessing the sounding dives of the different pods and recording that they where taking 11 minutes to resurface the crew took the chance with a pod a little further out to sea.

Lucky they did, as they came across a very active pod that decided to show off their rolling skills and pectoral slaps to the customers on board, but this pod where not quite sure what way they wanted to go so they started tracking north then west then south then east and after looking at the vessels GPS system the crew had done a complete 360 round trip over the hour of viewing.

The passengers also spotted a few whales breaching further out to sea but a little to far away to be viewed

Date: 5/8/2022

During today’s Whale Watching Cruise the passengers were mesmerised by the sight of a mother and calf.  Bottlenose and Common Dolphins were travelling with the vessel Hinchinbrook Explorer on the journey within the bay.

Bottlenose Dolphins were keeping the vessel company while heading out of the bay on the afternoon cruise.  Once out offshore we saw one juvenile Whale breach a few times. Happy Days.

Date: 4/8/2022

Aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer’s Whale Watching Cruise today, two Whales were sighted traveling north participating in half breaches and dives.  They were close to the vessel, however moving very fast.

Lots of bird life was spotted around with Petrels, Gannets and Terns to name a few.

Date: 2/8/2022

From one of our customers!

We went out on the 1.30pm Whale Watching cruise and what a great time we had.

The weather was magnificent with just a slight breeze blowing. We were lucky enough to see two beautiful whales while out there who both came up many times and seemed to be playing together.

To top off our trip, there were lots of dolphins around as well.

Date: 31/07/2022

From one of our customers! 

We had a blast! I was shocked when the boat pulled up initially and I realized it was going to be a different experience than the Imagine tour we missed with the full bar and snacks & Boat size Etc. but we grabbed some coffees and hot chocolate then jumped on board. It was rough our there and I was worried for my pregnant wife and 3 year old thinking they would be miserable with the water splashing us and the colder weather. Then things took a turn as soon as we got out there and found dolphins in the first 15min since the boat was so fast. The tour continued with limited success for 30min and then everything got magical in the last 30min or so when a huge pod of dolphins were surfing the front of the boat and my wife and son were right up against the railings almost touching them! Having a blast already when we got 4 different whale sightings and the last one was 2 huge ones 100 ft off the bow while the whole pod of dolphins were with us! We all went off in excitement and in that moment I realized why this one was more expensive and loved how intimate we got to be. 

Trip onboard the Aquamarine Adventures Envision Cruiser

Date: 30/7/2022

Today on the morning Whale Watching Cruise, two Whales were sighted off Fingal Island with a patch of white on one of the Whales back.  They were traveling north with good surface time in the 1.5m to 2m waves.  On the return trip via Cabbage Island there were plenty of Seals to be seen lazing around.

The sea conditions were better in the afternoon with two to three Whales heading north with reasonable surface time.

Date: 27/7/2022

Another sunny day in Port Stephens but with quite a crisp chill in the air.  Our morning cruisers on Hinchinbrook Explorer saw one lazy whale close to the boat.  It spent a lot of surface time swimming with the occasional blow.  Further out on the horizon a pod of 3 whales were competing  to see who had the highest blow.

Date: 26/07/2022

Today’s morning cruisers got to see a mother and calf spending plenty of time on the surface but they seemed a little confused; they didnt know what direction they wanted to go.  Eventually they found their bearings and headed in the northern direction.  Good sightings of fur seals at Cabbage Tree Island and Bottlenose Dolphins.

Our afternoon cruisers had a great show from 3 whales, spending a lot of surface time and doing double tail slaps.  One whale came nice and close to the boat showing off its pretty black fluke.

Fun fact: What is a fluke on a Whale? Whales often raise their tails, called flukes, out of the water when they dive, and flukes have characteristics that are unique among species and individuals.


Date: 25/07/2022

It seemed like even the whales had Mondayitis this morning with only one whale sighted off Fingal Island.  It was moving slowly, spending more time under the water than on top.  It was certainly was enjoying some ‘down time’.

The sun came out and the day got better for the afternoon cruisers, seeing plenty of action.  Cruisers sighted six whales east of the harbour entrance.  There was lots of excitement on board when we saw a chasing pod.  One whale was pushed out of the water by another whale – an amazing amount of force and strength.  The seals at Cabbage Tree Island were lazing high on the rocks, trying not too get wet and enjoying the warm rays of the sun. There were dolphins at the heads swimming at the bow of the boat as the boat headed back to the dock. A delightful afternoon on the water.

Date:  24/07/2022

The boys have been trying to impress the ladies this morning! Our crew have caught up with two pods of Humpback Whales, each pod having two whales in each. We have observed the whales becoming quite fast paced and active with a heat run, which occurs when the males whales are trying to court the females and show off their best side. At times the whales have approached the vessel within 100 meters giving all of our passengers a great view. We spent approx 30 minutes with the two pods with all whales spending a good amount of time on the surface of the water and showing off their beautiful tail flukes as they dove beneath the surface of the water.

As we moved on from the whales we have cruised onto Cabbage Tree Island. Today’s count was 12 seals resting on the rocks. It is hard to imagine how a seal manages to haul themselves up to the highest vantage, but somehow a few of the seals could be seen near to the tree line of the island.

Date 23/07/2022

It’s great to be back out on the water with the sunshine today.  The Hinchinbrook Explorer departed at 10am and came across a Whale that breached upon their arrival.  They observed multiple Whales further out while waiting for some action from the visiting Whale.  Of course when the vessel decided to depart location the Whale commenced breaching and even head lunged.  The sea conditions are still a bit rolly out there and if you are considering cruising with us we suggest heading to a chemist and asking for sea sickness prevention prior to boarding. 


There would be no rainbows without sunshine and rain! Add in a Humpback Whale breaking the surface of the water as it expels the air from its lungs creating a beautiful whale rainbow.

Passengers aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer have spent time with a pod of two Humpback Whales cruising their way north bound. Both whales spent a good amount of time on the surface of the water, with sounding dives only being between five to six minutes at a time. We have also spotted a pod of the local Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins on our way out through the headland at Mt Tomaree.

The MV Spirit has located a very active Humpback Whale on the 11am whale watch cruise. Captain Dan has reported that the whale was on a breaching marathon, he lost count after about breach number 50!

The westerly wind has picked up for the afternoon whale watch cruises, and the whales have become a little harder to track with the whales being a bit erratic in their movement. The two Humpbacks spotted have been spending greater periods of time on their sounding dives and have been zig zagging in odd direction making viewing difficult.

Date: 16/07/2022

What better way to spend a sunny Saturday in Port Stephens than jumping on a whale watch cruise! The air was extremely chilly today, so wearing plenty of warm winter clothing including a beanie was a must! For our passengers onboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer 10am whale watch cruise, it has taken every effort of the crew to find a whale. But the crew has reported that Captain never gave up hope and came through, finding one lone Humpback Whale that we have spent time viewing and watching its behaviours. 

Date: 15/07/2022

During both our morning whale watch cruises aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer and MV Spirit our passengers have had a close encounter with a juvenile Humpback Whale located close to the Fingal Island Lighthouse. The whale was spending a good amount of time on the surface of the water and only diving for periods of three to six minutes at a time. At one stage the whale has approached the vessel coming within 50 metres giving everyone an amazing view of the whales beautiful tail as it has dove beneath the surface of the water.

We have cruised past Cabbage Tree Island and found approx twelve seals basking in the sunshine! The rocks on the island become prime seal real estate during the Port Stephens winter. Our local Bottlenose Dolphins were spotted with approx 20 whales in the pod.

Date: 13/7/2022

The whales during our morning cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer have been a little elusive today, even though we are seeing a large number of whales blows as they break the surface of the water within the vicinity the whales are quickly disappearing and diving beneath the surface of the water between 10-15 minutes at a time. Despite our best efforts when the Humpback Whales are playing a game of hide and seek it can be extremely difficult to keep track of the movements and predict where they will appear next.

Meanwhile our late morning whale watch cruise departure aboard the MV Spirit of Port Stephens viewed a pod of the local Bottlenose Dolphins cruising out through the head at Mount Tomaree. We have then come across a lone Humpback Whale just east of Fingal Island, the whale was slow in its movements and swim direction to begin with but it has suddenly burst into life and began to show off his breaching skills and repeatedly breach about a or so dozen times! Before begining the cruise back to the marina we have cruised onto Cabbage Tree Island to view the seals who are currently residing on the rocks of the island for the winter period.

Date: 12/7/2022

The sunshine and blue skys have returned to Port Stephens and with sea conditions settling greatly we are excited to depart the dock on our morning whale watch cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer.

Our first wildlife sighting of the day has been a pod of the local Bottlenose Dolphins near to the Tomaree Headland at Shoal Bay. From there we have cruised out through the entrance of the harbour to locate a pod consisting of between three to four Humpback Whales. All whales have been content in continuing their journey north bound along our beautiful coastline giving all passenger a good chance to view these majestic mammals.

Crew director Yui aboard the MV Spirit of Port has reported that they have cruised out to a water depth of over 90 metres where they have spotted two Humpback Whales, both whales were beneath the surface of the water for approx five minutes at a time. There were further pods in the distance, but these whales were spending longer periods on their sounding Dives.


Date: 11/7/2022

With the southerly swell decreasing as the morning progressed we have been able to get back out cruising off shore after a couple of days of no whale watch cruises due to the sea conditions not being favourable.

The crew on the Hinchinbrook Explorer have quickly located a pod of two Humpback Whales as they have approached the Fingal Lighthouse, we have moved on from this pod as they were spending long periods of time on sounding dives making it had to predict where the whales would appear again. The second pod of two adult Humpback whales located were heading north bound, on this occasion our passengers have spent a good amount of time viewing the whales as the pair continued their journey on the surface of the water.

Date: 9/7/2022

The sun is shining and we are excited to be heading back out whale watching. The vessel, Spirit of Port Stephens, sighted Dolphins while they were making their way out of the heads.  Once offshore the whales were hard to track as they were sound diving for long periods which made it difficult to predict where they would surface.  As the Whales were only briefly sighted, standby vouchers were issued to the passengers for them to use in the future.

During our afternoon whale watch cruise we have spotted one lone Humpback Whale close to Fingal Island. To begin the whale was quite active wowing our passengers with a number of breaches and head lunges as this whale started go a little quiet we have cruised further south and found another two Humpback Whales. At one point both whales have approached the back of the vessel, and continued swimming north bound.


Date: 8/7/2022

It’s great to be back out in the ocean after the last few days of unfavourable sea conditions.

Today the Whales were out wide with 3 to 4 pods sighted blowing 100m away.  As the cruise progressed 1 to 2 Whales were inquisitive and came closer in displaying a half hearted breach.

Date: 2/7/2022

It has been a day of close whale encounters for all our whale watch cruise passengers. Two Humpback Whales have surfaced right along side the Hinchinbrook Explorer giving all onboard a good look of the friendly giants.

While passengers onboard the MV Spirit of Port Stephens have encountered two whales in close with Fingal Island, with both being super inquisitive whales that have appeared meters from the boat, with Cruise Director Yui describing the vocalisation from the whale sounding like an elephant beneath the surface of the water. Both whales were having a great time splashing the surface of the water by tail lobbing and tail slapping – a most impressive sight to witness.

There are quite a few seals now residing on Cabbage Tree Island for the winter months, even a couple of very young pups.

Cruise Direct Kathy has reported a spectacular afternoon of cruising aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer. Whales have been breaching consistently near to the vessel and also right in front of the bow, with all whales spending a good amount of time on the surface of the water.

Date: 1/7/2022

We have picked up a couple of Humpback Whales when approaching the Fingal Island Lighthouse this morning with both whales heading north bound along the Port Stephens coastline. Both whales have showed off their acrobatic display with a number of breaches, and a couple of almost lazy breaches or head lunges.

These were not the only whales sighted today, with over 20 plus whales being reported being located close by. Before cruising for home we have cruised past Cabbage Tree Island to see the seals lounging on the rocks and then onto a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins close to Jimmys Beach.

Date 29/6/2022

What an action packed whale watch cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer this morning, it is one of the most amazing cruises we have experienced. We have started with the sighting of 6 to 7 whales close to Fingal Island which has turned into a heat run of male Humpback Whales chasing the females. At one stage everyone has been left in awe of the sight of three Humpback Whales breaching in sequence together, this has been etched into the memory bank as no one managed to capture video. Lots of activity with head lunges, and pec slapping too, all to impress the girls.

The crew have reported a stunning number of whales in the vicinity with numerous pods tallying around 30-40 whales. What a morning!

Our afternoon cruise did not disappoint either with a pod of 4 or 5 whales coming in close to the vessel at one stage, and again the male Humpback Whales taking a keen interest and out to impress the females in the pod with pec slapping, head lunging and breaches on display.

A couple of dolphins have then joined in with the pod of whales, but the whales weren’t too keen to share and it appeared as though the whales were trying to push the dolphins away from their pod. And if that wasn’t enough, a pod of Oceanic Dolphins have jumped on the bow of the pressure wave to bow ride along with the Hinchinbrook Explorer – was a hard decision of which way to look – whales or dolphins!

Date: 26/6/2022

It has been an action packed whale watch cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer this morning with a pod of six Humpback Whales being sighted straight out through the headland, close to Fingal Island. The males in the pod were acting extremely competitive in their attempt to impress the female Humpback Whales, by showing off with tail lobs, at one point one of the whale has very gently spy hopped, lifting it’s head completely out of the water so see what happening above the surface of the water.

Before turning for home we have cruised up to Cabbage Tree Island to say hello to the seals lying on the rocks of the island, and then found the local Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins at Yaccaba Headland as we have cruised back into harbour.

Date: 25/6/2022

Conditions are perfect for whale watching at Port Stephens this weekend, with calm seas, brilliant blue sky and sunshine by the bucket load. Our whale watch cruise aboard the MV Spirit of Port Stephens has started out quietly with Captain Belinda locating a pod of four Humpback Whales close to Fingal Island and all traveling north bound. At times the whales have swum close to the boat and we have watch a few lazy part tail lobs providing a bit of entertainment. But then out of the blue one of the whales has breached fully out of the water not far from the vessel at all, giving all of our passengers the most amazing surprise.

To view video of the most amazing whale encounter head to the Moonshadow TQC Facebook page https://fb.watch/dSk1JL82qn/

The Spirit of Port has viewed our local Bottlenose Dolphins on both the morning and afternoon cruises as we have ventured outside the headland at Shoal Bay.

The seals on Cabbage Tree Island have been enjoying the warm winter sunshine, lying on their backs with their flippers in the air waving to everyone, with another two seals in the water squabbling over who has the ownership over the prime rock position.

Crew report from the afternoon whale watch cruise is again so many whales passing along the Port Stephens coastline with numerous pods seen, we have stayed with two pods of Humpback Whales with two whales in each pod. As we have turned to start the journey home there was a whale breaching in the distance behind us near the Fingal Island Lighthouse.

Date: 24/6/2022

The days are a little chilly but nothing like a hot cuppa to warm you up while out whale watching.  Our bar is fully stocked with hot/cold beverages and hot/cold food to warm the soul.

Whales Whales everywhere – dont know which way to look. Today is another example of the Humpback Highway being in full swing.  Passengers on all sides of the boat were treated to multiple breaches, tail slaps and tail lobs. Multiple pods of whales were seen right down to the south, out to the east and up to the north.  It’s certainly a whale spectacle out there.

Date: 23/6/2022

Another super day out on our Whale Watch cruises with both our morning and afternoon cruises seeing plenty of whales who are pretty hell bent of getting to warmer waters.  Passengers were treated to a good breach close to the boat just when everyone had put their cameras away.  A pod of Common Dolphins were seen offshore and Bottlenose Dolphins were seen as the Hinchinbrook Explorer cruised along Jimmy’s Beach back to port.  Another day in paradise.

Date: 22/6/2022

Winter days in Port Stephens don’t get much better than the conditions we have experience over the last couple of days, with warm sunny days, light breezes and good sea conditions.

The Hinchinbrook Explorer has departed the dock at 10am with our passengers primed for a fantastic morning searching for Humpback Whales off shore. Cruising out through the headland at Shoal Bay and on towards Fingal Island we have located a pod of three Humpback Whales, we have spent a good amount of time with this pod as they traveled in line with Boondelbah Island. All whales were only doing three to four minutes sounding dives, making tracking the pod a little easier.

On the afternoon whale cruise 1 adult and 2 juvenile Humpback Whales were sighted south of Big Island performing a few big breaches and tail lobs.  As always it’s a fun time heading back into the bay meeting with the Dolphins as they ride at the bow of the vessel.

Date: 21/6/2022


The whales are now aplenty off Port Stephens with lots of action on the Humpback Highway, as the locals fondly call it.

Today’s cruise didnt disappoint with plenty of whale sightings off Fingal Island.  There were breaches, pec fin slaps, tail lobs, tail slaps just to name a few of the tricks performed.

On the way back home we spotted a nursery pod of Bottlenose Dolphins which had two new born calfs in the group.  Very cute.

Stayed tuned for more whale stories……

Date: 20/6/2022

The Port Stephens Whale Highway is becoming quite congested with so many pods of whales being sighted each day, we appear to be heading into the peak of the northern migration of Humpback Whales making their way north bound towards Queensland.

Again we have picked up a pod of two Humpback Whales close to the Fingal Lighthouse, there has been a bit of playful action occurring with the whales slapping the surface of the water creating a lot of white water splashing. At point one of the whales has swam in close to the vessel and surprised everyone onboard by breaching a short distance from the boat.

The crew have also reported sighting of more whales further in the distance.

Date: 19/6/2022

It has been a misty and showery start to the day at Nelson Bay, by the time we have departed the dock for the first whale watch cruise of the day the cloud has lifted a bit and the showers eased off.

The skipper of the Hinchinbrook Explorer has lined up along side a pod of two Humpback Whales and cruised along at the same pace of the whales from Point Stephens towards Big Island. Both whales were spending a lot of time on the surface of the water, with sounding dives of only approx three minutes at a time.

Our passengers aboard our afternoon whale watch cruise were in awe of the acrobatic display unfolding before their eyes, they didn’t know which way to look as every trick was performed. It was like the whales were in competition with each other or maybe communicating. Breaches, jumping barrel rolls and pectoral fin slapping. For passengers who happened to be in the right location on the boat, they were perfectly lined up to view two whales emerging from the water and performing a perfect double breach! Spectacular!

Date: 18/6/2022

The Oceanic Dolphins have stolen the show today with their brilliant acrobatic skills on display, at one point a huge pod of Dolphins appeared taking a lot of interest in the Hinchinbrook Explorer. Dolphins love nothing more than swimming along at speed on the bow of the boat riding the pressure wave, with the most amazing sight of 20 or more Dolphins all leaping out of the water cruising with the swell, all mid air at once.

Cruise Director, Renee reports she could hearing the humming of ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming’ with tune of Dory’s song, as all of our whale sightings today have been Humpback Whales intent on continuing their journey north bound towards the warmer waters of Queensland. They have seen plenty of blows of air as whales have exhaled in coming to the surface of the water, but not a lot of action seen.

This afternoons highlight was the sighting of a baby Hammer Head Shark swimming briefly along side the Hinchinbrook Explorer.

Date: 17/6/2022

The word has gotten out amongst the seal population, Port Stephens is the place to be for winter! We counted up to 15 seals lazing about on Cabbage Tree Island today. The seals will reside on the island during the cooler months before heading off once the spring air starts to warm up.

We have experienced some amazing active whales during today’s whale watch cruises with reports coming back from the crew of a very playful pair of Humpback Whales seen close to Fingal Island. Both whales were tail lobbing and tail slapping the surface of the water. There were a number of pods that could be seen in the distance, with a couple of breaching whales sighted way off in the distance.

Our afternoon whale watch cruise on the Hinchinbrook Explorer had the most spectacular cruise off shore, with one lone Humpback Whale competing in its own breach-a-thon straight out through the headland at Shoal Bay, just picture whale launching itself fully out of the water, and barrel rolling it’s body mid-air before crashing back to the water. Our passengers were ecstatic with the whales efforts, counting at least 30 breaches! At one point a whales has swam within 20-30 metres of the vessel. To complete the cruise we have also seen pods of Bottlenose Dolphins on the way out of the harbour and then again once cruising for home near Yaccaba Headland. What a day!

Date: 16/6/2022

This morning’s whale watching cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer were delighted to see multiple pods of whales with great surface time whilst on their journey offshore near the Fingal Lighthouse.  Once on location, a juvenile whale breached several times near the vessel allowing the passengers to have a good look.

On the afternoon tour, the vessel cruised alongside a pod of five Humpback Whales with fantastic surface time and lots of flukes in the air.  A whale’s tale is made of two lobes, each of which are called a fluke.  There is a v-shaped indentation where the flukes of a whale’s tail meet.  Flukes move up and down to propel the whale through the water.

There were multiple pods scattered around during the cruise and the Common Dolphins joined the Hinchinbrook Explorer whilst they made their way to view the seals lazying around on the rocks.  We were thrilled to see the Bottlenose Dolphins upon our entry back between the headlands on the cruise back to the marina.

Date: 15/6/2022

What a magical day to be on the water in the beautiful Port Stephens.  Seas were calm and the sun is shining.  Our passengers today were treated with lots of acrobatic displays from about 30 whales who are migrating north.  We saw plenty of breaches, tail lobs and pectoral fin slaps.  Passengers and crew were entertained with one whale perfecting his backstroke, laying on the surface with his belly in the air and slapping his fingers around while egging on his friend who was doing tail lobs.  Often both got a bit excited and were jumping for joy, known as a breach.  Lots of bird life was also seen with Pectorals, Albatross and Gannet.  If that wasn’t enough excitement for the day, our skipper steamed over to Cabbage Tree Island to find 15 big fat seals who were sun baking after a morning hunting for a delicious seafood breakfast 

Date: 14/6/2022

We have whaley missed being off shore cruising the waterways of Port Stephens! The crew are desperate to head out through the headland at Mt Tomaree again this morning in search of Humpback Whales migration along the coastline.

The Captain of the Hinchinbrook Explorer has located several pods of Humpback Whales just out from the Fingal Bay Lighthouse and traveled along side matching the cruising speed of the vessel to match the swimming whales as we moved towards Big Island. Before moving away from the whales they have become quite active and at times have ventured closer to the vessel, with an amazing display of breaching and pectoral finn slapping. There has been a large pod of Off Shore Oceanic Dolphins close to the islands.

Date: 13/6/2022

Between the winds and the ocean swell, no one ventured out today to see the whales.

Fortunately, the conditions are getting better and we look forward to heading out again tomorrow.

Date 12/6/2022

You could be forgiven for thinking that there is snow falling in Port Stephens today! The air is super chilly, with what feels like winds blowing directly from the Snowy Mountains and making the accessories of a warm beanie and scarf a necessity while out whale watching this morning to keep warm.

The Hinchinbrook Explorer and MV Spirit of Port have both cruised through the Bay passing Shoal Bay to venture off shore in search of Humpback Whales this morning with crew reports of whales being located near to Point Stephens. We have spent time to begin with a single whale who was showing off by creating a bit of splash by tail lobbing, two further whales have then appeared with all whales seen to be on the surface of the water quite a lot.

Passengers on MV Spirit of Port were caught off guard with a whale breaching out of eye sight, with many passengers only catching the end result of the breach and large creation of white water and splash as the whale landed back on the water.

The local Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins have been waiting as we have turned for home cruising past the Yaccaba Headland, on the Hawks Nest side of the harbour.

Date: 11/6/2022

We were privileged on this morning’s whale watching cruise, aboard the Spirit of Port, to witness a heat run consisting of multiple pods of 8 or more Humpback Whales pursuing the female Humpback Whale. There was lots of grunting and fast paced action during the chase with the males contesting for the female’s attention.  We could tell from the surface of the water there was lots of activity underneath and at one point the whales came within 100m of the vessel.  A heat run is where a male whale vies for the attention of a female whale chasing her which can cause a frenzy of activity.

During the afternoon whale watching cruise, Renee the Cruise Director shared a sighting of a pod of Inshore Bottlenose Dolphins as they were cruising outside the heads.

Once the Spirit of Port was located off Fingal Lighthouse they viewed several Humpback Whale pods with an encounter of a lone juvenile whale actively breaching, swimming and appeared to be playing a game of hide and seek under the boat and popping up on the other side of the vessel.

There is nothing more magical than seeing the water illuminated in the depths of the ocean as the whale slowly makes its way to the surface showing their beautiful white under belly.

Date: 10/6/2022

From the vessel this morning multiple pods of Humpback Whales were observed off Fingal Lighthouse so we haven’t had to travel too far today to see the action.  Cruise Director, Renee, advised that the pods appeared to have two or more whales in each pod.

With so many whales within the vicinity there is a lot of activity between all the pods communicating with one another.  Sighted behaviours were head lunges, this is quite a spectacular sight with the sheer bulk and size of an adult Humpback Whale lifting it’s head out of the water.

It was noticed on the afternoon whale watching cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer, that the whales continued to provide an atmosphere of social interaction over four to five pods.  One lone juvenile whale thought he was a Ballerina and delighted the passengers on the bow of the vessel by pirouetting it’s entire body out of the water creating an enormous splash.

Another whale sighting was captured and the type of whale was unknown with potentially being a Pilot Whale or Minke Whale which disappeared from sight very quickly making it difficult to identify.


Date: 9/6/2022

Whale Hello There !

What do you call a baby whale?……………..A little squirt!

The sun was out in full force today but the cold has set in, today’s max temp is 13.9 but feels like 4.7 brrrrrrr. We recommend rugging up. You can’t have enough layers and beanies are a must! 

The whales definitely had their coffee today and came nice and close to the vessel to say hello to the passengers and crew. With 2 Whales being  spotted just off the Fingal Lighthouse coming within 50mts of the vessel. (note: vessels must abide by many rules when viewing whales, but whales don’t know this and they can surface anywhere they like). These 2 whales put on a great show and were very comfortable with the vessel!

While traveling North with the whales, a pod of bottlenose dolphins joined them briefly, giving our passengers a real treat to see them traveling together. During the cruise we had spotted all up, 4 visible pods and had an attention seeker slapping his/her pectoral fin on the surface and was quit active.

The tour was not done yet on the return journey home the crew spotted 15 yes 15 Australian Fur Seals sunning themself on Cabbage Tree Island. Fun fact Cabbage Tree Island is also know as John Gould Nature Reserve and is a protect nature reserve being home to a rare bird called the Gould’s Petrel.

Date: 8/6/2022

Are whales acrobatic? Humpback Whales are known as the most acrobatic mammal of the oceanic world, especially when you consider the size of a fully grown adult whale can be the size of a small bus. Can you picture a bus leaping out of the water looking graceful and majestic as it twists its body mid air to land back to the water. Well some how the sight of a acrobatic Humpback Whale is a thing of beauty, whether the whale is breaching itself out of the water or tail slapping the surface of the water it is something never to be forgotten.

Passengers on our whale watch cruises today have been treated to an acrobatic display of tail slapping and tail lobbing creating lots of white water splashing. And of course we have cruised past Cabbage Tree Island to say hello to the seals lazing about on the rocks at the base of the island.We have also been joined by a pod of inshore Indo Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins that have come in quite close to the vessel as we made our way back into the bay at Shoal Bay.

Date: 7/6/2022

The number of whales passing the Port Stephens coastline seems to be increasing daily with a number of pods being sighted and the opportunity to stick with different pods depending on their level of activity and the amount of time they are spending beneath the surface of the water.

The crew aboard the MV Spirit of Port Stephens during our morning cruise has found two to three pods of Humpback Whales straight away just off Fingal Island. All whales were content on continuing their north bound journey, and we have cruised along at their pace watching these majestic creatures.

Passengers on our afternoon cruise have watched the action of a chasing pods of four or five whales. A pod of whales can get quite competitive when there is a single female traveling in conjunction with two or more male whales. The males are trying to impress the female and have been seen to try and remove another male from the pod by becoming very boisterous, making deep grunting noises and antagonistic head lunges.  At one point the whales have come in quite close to the MV Spirit of Port Stephens.

Date: 6/6/2022

Whales, whales, whales and more whales in the only way to describe the sightings aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer on our 10am whale watch cruise at Port Stephens. It appears in every direction we look there are multiple pods of Humpback Whales.

While the westerly wind is chilly, the whales have certainly made up for this with action galore, or as Cruise Director Kathy described ‘the whales have gone nuts’ with whales breaching on repetition, double head lunging. The hardest decision this morning was which pod of whales we should be watching.

Date: 5/6/2022

As the song lyrics describe ‘easy like Sunday morning’ the Humpback Whales sighted during our morning whale watch cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer are having an extremely lazy Sunday morning as they slowly make their way in a relax mode towards Queensland.

Our first whale of the day was spotted close to Fingal Island, this whale was spending long periods of time doing sounding dives, so the skipper has moved onto another two pods of Humpback Whales a little further south at Fingal Bay, each with two whales. All whales were very relaxed, enjoying the calm seas and no swell as they traveled north bound along the Port Stephens coastline. At one point a single Bottlenose Dolphin has come into join one of the pods of whales, interacting and swimming along with the whales. Cruise Director Yui said that one of the whales gave a very gentle tail slap creating a bit of a splash.

There have been a number of Minke Whales sighted during this week, and again today the crew have said briefly a Minke Whale made an appearance before quickly disappearing again.

Date 4/6/2022

The winter mornings in Port Stephens are becoming very brisk and chilly, but of course, the colder winter temperatures mean whales, whales, and more whales!

Standing on the deck of the Hinchinbrook Explorer is quite obviously the best spot to catch a glimpse of the whales, as they come to the surface of the water, but some of our passengers on our morning whale watch cruise were surprised with a juvenile Humpback Whale surfacing right beside the vessel. Hello whale! It’s such an amazing feeling to see a whale come in so close, and to be able to hear them breathe, just gives you goose bumps.

There are a number of other pods of Humpback Whales within the vicinity that the crew can see which is a good sign of the whale numbers starting to increase for the northern migration.

The offshore sea conditions have improved as the day has gone on, the crew aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer this afternoon have reported the sighting of three Humpback Whales straight off from the Fingal Island Lighthouse. All three whales have spent a large amount of time on the surface of the water giving all our passengers ample time to view the whales as the vessel travelled along beside the pod.

As we have turned for home and cruised in through the headland we have found a pod of the local Port Stephens Bottlenose Dolphins

Date: 3/6/2022

Fingal Island and the Lighthouse are becoming our lucky charms when it comes to finding whales. ore often than not all the skippers need to do each cruise is head towards to island and as we come into line with land we are finding whales not too far away.

This morning we had a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins as the Hinchinbrook Explorer cruised out past Mount Tomaree at Shoal Bay before we have continued onto Fingal Island and located a pod of two Humpback Whales. Both whales have seemed a little confused as we followed along side them heading in a northerly direction before they have turned around and started heading back south again.

We have also had a glimpses of another two whales that the crew were uncertain of what type of whales, possibly either a Melon Head Whale, False Killer Whales or a Pilot Whale. Both of these whales were interacting and playing chase with the two Humpback Whales, and displaying a lot of action including tail slapping, tail lobs, body rolling and just the one breach!

Our passengers aboard the 1:30pm whale watch cruise have enjoyed watching one very active juvenile Humpback Whale repeatedly breaching, he was putting on a wonderful display for everyone pec slapping, rolling on the surface of the water, but the show stopper was the 50 or so breaches that he did none stop. There was another two pods seen near to Fingal Island again.

The local Bottlenose were spotted under Mount Tomaree leaping out of the water attempting to catch fish…. and successfully landing their lunch for the day.

Date: 2/6/20223

We have met up with a couple of Humpback Whales heading north bound close to Fingal Island on our 10am whale watch cruise, at times the whales were coming quite close to the boat and only doing three minute sounding dives. The crew have then sighted a Minke Whale, Minke Whales have a sleek, dark grey body and a tall sickle shaped fin that curves backwards.  Look out for the distinctive white ‘armbands’ on the pectoral fins (front flippers).  Their blow is weak or invisible, making them harder to spot and identify.  The scientific name for Minke whales translate to ‘winged whale’ and they are members of the baleen whale family and are the smallest of the great whales.

During the afternoon whale watch cruise aboard the Hinchinbrook Explorer we have come across a pod of three very playful Humpback Whales that were interacting with and swimming along side a pod of Oceanic Dolphins and pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. One of the whales has split from the pod and playfully approached the vessel, coming up sveral time only a couple of meters away on the bow of the boat.

Date: 1/6/2022

The first day of June and the first day of winter marks the official start date of the whale migration in New South Wales and while the air is chilly we are set to venture off shore in search of our first Humpback Whale of the day. The crew of the Hinchinbrook Explorer have just sat the vessel off the Fingal Bay Lighthouse for a while when they have spotted a breaching whale, the Captain has done a number of loops around the perimeter of the whales location to come into line and be able to cruise from a distance at the same speed of the whale who has spent a good amount of time on the surface of the water. We have also spotted a huge pod of Common Dolphins off shore.