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At least five humpback whales wintered in our bays this year (2011). This is a change to the normal pattern where we see whales at the beginning and end of winter, on what we assumed was a stop-over on their annual migration.

The photograph shows three humpbacks off Mt Martha in August behaving aggressively in ways never before seen in Port Phillip. Imagine animals the size of a bus, ramming, tail-slapping and then lunging up out of the water to land on the back of another whale.

Our team was very concerned about the proximity of vessels to the whales. Being too close is very dangerous.

We have provided DSE with reports and images from the day for them to follow up if necessary.

As to why the whales behaved as they did; there are more questions than answers and we are keen to see what happens next year. It is possible that we will need to broaden our research plans.

September, 2011

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