8 Types Of Whales Found In Australia (With Pictures)

whales in australia

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As someone who has always been fascinated by marine life, I’ve always been drawn to the majestic creatures that inhabit the waters around Australia.

Among these creatures, whales have captured the attention of many people, both locals and tourists alike.

Australia is home to many different species of whales, and they can be found in various locations around the country.

One of the most popular places to spot whales in Australia is along the east coast, where humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you give it a visit as it’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been.

So, let’s take a look at 8 types of whales in Australia so you know what to look out for during your travels.

1. Blue whale

blue whale
Image by A K

Blue whales are the largest animals on the planet, and they can be found in all of the world’s oceans, including those surrounding Australia.

These majestic creatures can grow up to 100 feet in length and weigh as much as 200 tons, making them truly awe-inspiring to behold.

In Australia, blue whales can be found along the southern and western coasts, particularly during the summer months.

They are often spotted feeding on krill, which are small crustaceans that form the basis of their diet. Blue whales are known for their distinctive vocalizations, which can be heard for miles underwater.

Despite their massive size, blue whales are not aggressive toward humans and are generally considered to be gentle giants.

However, they have been hunted to near extinction in the past, and their populations are still recovering today.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a blue whale during your travels in Australia, be sure to keep a safe distance and enjoy the experience of witnessing one of the world’s most incredible creatures in its natural habitat.

2. Humpback whale

humpback whale
Image by Christopher Michel

Humpback whales are one of the most commonly sighted whales in Australia.

These majestic creatures are known for their acrobatic displays, which include breaching, tail slapping, and spyhopping.

Humpback whales are also known for their beautiful songs, which can be heard for miles underwater.

They are found in all of Australia’s oceans, but their migration patterns vary depending on the time of year.

During the winter months, humpback whales can be seen migrating north to warmer waters to breed and give birth.

And during the summer months, they migrate back south to their feeding grounds in Antarctica.

Humpback whales are filter feeders, which means they consume large amounts of small prey, such as krill and small fish.

Unfortunately, humpback whales have not always been safe in Australian waters. They were heavily hunted in the past, but thankfully, their populations have since recovered.

Today, humpback whales are protected by law, and it is illegal to hunt them in Australian waters.

3. Minke whale

minke whale
Image by muzzanese

The minke whale is the smallest baleen whale found in Australian waters, measuring between 7 and 10 meters in length and weighing around 5 to 10 tons.

They are found in the southern hemisphere, including along the east and west coasts of Australia.

Minke whales are known for their acrobatic displays, often breaching and tail slapping.

They are also known for their curious nature, and have been known to approach boats and interact with humans.

In terms of diet, minke whales primarily feed on krill and small fish. They are also known to feed on copepods and amphipods.

Despite being the smallest baleen whale, minke whales are still a target for commercial whaling in some countries.

However, Australia is a strong advocate for the conservation of whales and has implemented measures to protect them, including a ban on commercial whaling in its waters.

4. Southern right whale

southern right whale
Image by Rob Schleiffert

Southern right whales are a type of baleen whale that can be found in the waters surrounding Australia. As a species, they are known for their distinctive appearance and behavior.

One of the most notable features of the southern right whale is its large head, which can make up as much as one-third of its total body length.

They also have a broad back and a stocky body, which can make them appear somewhat barrel-shaped.

Southern right whales are known for their acrobatic behavior, which can include breaching, tail slapping, and rolling.

They are also known for their curious nature, and will often approach boats and swimmers.

Fingers crossed you spot one of these beautiful creatures during your visit to Australia.

5. Killer whales

killer whales
Image by Alexandre Roux

Killer whales, also known as orcas, are a common sight in Australian waters. These marine mammals are known for their intelligence, social behavior, and hunting skills.

As a top predator in the ocean, killer whales play an important role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem.

There are two types of killer whales that can be found in Australia: the offshore killer whale and the type D killer whale.

The offshore killer whale is found in the open ocean, while the type D killer whale is found in the sub-Antarctic region.

Offshore killer whales are known for their distinctive coloration, which is black and white with a gray saddle patch behind the dorsal fin.

They can grow up to 9 meters in length and weigh up to 6 tons. Offshore killer whales feed on a variety of prey, including fish, squid, and other marine mammals such as seals and dolphins.

Type D killer whales, on the other hand, are smaller in size and have a more rounded head and shorter dorsal fin than the offshore killer whale.

They are known to feed on fish, but their diet is not well understood.

In Australia, killer whales can be seen in various locations, including off the coast of Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania.

They are a popular attraction for tourists who enjoy whale-watching tours.

6. Pilot whales

pilot whale
Image by Scouse Smurf

Pilot whales are one of the most commonly sighted whales in the waters around Australia.

These whales are part of the oceanic dolphin family and are known for their distinctive black and white markings.

They are also known for their social behavior and are often seen in large pods of up to 100 individuals.

Pilot whales are found in all of Australia’s waters, from the tropical north to the cooler waters of the south.

They are known to feed on a variety of fish and squid, and are often seen in areas where there are large schools of prey.

One interesting fact about pilot whales is that they are known for their mass strandings.

This is when large groups of whales beach themselves on shore, often with fatal consequences.

While the exact reasons for these strandings are not fully understood, it is believed that they may be caused by a number of factors, including changes in ocean currents, disease, and human activity.

Despite their social behavior and close family ties, pilot whales are still hunted in some parts of the world, including Japan and the Faroe Islands.

However, in Australia, pilot whales are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which prohibits the hunting, killing, or harassment of these animals.

7. Sei whale

sei whale
Image by Michael Sale

The Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) is one of the fastest swimming whales, reaching speeds of up to 50 km/h.

They can be found in all of the world’s oceans, including the waters around Australia.

Sei Whales are baleen whales, which means they have comb-like plates in their mouths instead of teeth. They use these plates to filter small fish and krill from the water.

Sei Whales are known for their distinctive dorsal fin, which is tall and pointed. They also have a unique V-shaped blow when they surface to breathe.

Unfortunately, Sei Whales were heavily hunted during the 20th century, and their populations are still recovering. They are currently listed as an endangered species.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Sei Whale in the wild, it’s important to keep a safe distance.

These whales are still recovering from decades of hunting, and we need to do everything we can to protect them.

8. Bryde’s whale

brydes whale
Image by Jason Thompson

Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) is a baleen whale species found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including off the coast of Australia.

It is named after Johan Bryde, a Norwegian whaler who helped establish the first modern whaling station in South Africa in the early 20th century.

These stunning whales are quite common in Australia, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot them if you take a whale-watching trip.


To wrap up, Australia is home to a diverse range of whale species, including the humpback, southern right, and blue whale.

These majestic creatures are an integral part of the Australian marine ecosystem and play a vital role in maintaining its balance.

Despite the challenges they face, including habitat loss, climate change, and human activities such as hunting and pollution, many whale populations in Australia are recovering.

This is due in part to conservation efforts such as the establishment of marine protected areas and the banning of commercial whaling.

Australia is a unique and important location for whale watching and conservation, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to visit and spot many of these whales for myself.

See you in the next one and good luck whale spotting!