On Sunday, we (and thirty others) were standing on the decks of a boat a few miles off the mouth of Sydney Harbour, scanning the horizon. Suddenly, excited shouts of "there!" had us turning to where fingers were pointed to. I caught the sight of a spurt of water coming out of a blowhole. The whales had been spotted.
We saw more bursts of water from the sea now and then, and the arched back of whales as they made their graceful dives. They surface every few minutes and then dissapear again for a few minutes, so the hunt is a continuous one, trying to figure out where they will pop up next. Occasionally, a big collective OOOH sounds when we spy the tail with its characteristic Y-shape.
As we headed back, we were lucky enough to catch three humpback whales. Two breached for us twice (that is the act of throwing itself out of the air and flipping back on its back). That garnered an OOOOOOH!
It's a nice experience watching such giant creatures in a natural environment. But a note of warning for those who get seasick easily. The ride out is pretty extreme. Number One said it was exactly like an amusement park ride he had ridden, called Wave Rider. He screamed and laughed with every hard bounce of the boat (a bit embaressing since he was the only one doing so). Since we sat on the first row, we also got occasionally splashed with water, which delighted him even more. Those not blessed with his disposition were on the inside, looking a little grey, and holding on to their sick bags with an iron grip.