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Humpbacks aplenty along Lake Macquarie’s coast

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They call it the humpback highway but recent sightings off Lake Macquarie’s coast reveal there are plenty of other marine mammals cruising past, too, during winter.

More than 35,000 whales are expected to migrate north this year, searching out warmer waters for the annual breeding season.

However, land-based whale-watchers and CoastXP, which runs daily whale-watching cruises off the Lake Mac coast, have reported seeing other key species cruising close to shore.

“We’re seeing multiple pods of whales every day at the moment,” CoastXP director Dominic May said.

“We have been lucky enough to see false killer whales, which aren’t actually whales at all but a species of large dolphin, we’ve seen southern right whales off Caves Beach and sei whales off Redhead Bluff.”

A recent encounter off Dudley Beach saw a giant humpback approach breathtakingly close to Mr May’s whale-watching boat.

“If they choose to swim to you, you simply have to stop and let them do their thing,” he said.

“It circled the boat twice, then it did a behaviour called spy-hopping, where its nose comes out of the water while the rest of its body remains vertically suspended in water.

“It was a surreal experience.”

Lake Macquarie is recognised as one of the best places in NSW to get a glimpse of the mammals’ annual migration, thanks to its abundance of elevated coastal topography.

This provides ideal land-based vantage points, including the highest clifftops along the Hunter Coast.

Lookouts in Awabakal Nature Reserve at Dudley sit atop cliffs towering more than 90m above the Tasman Sea, providing sweeping views out to sea and north to Port Stephens.

Slightly further south, a lookout at Redhead on Ocean Street is almost as tall and an easily accessible spot to search for the tell-tale silvery geysers of spray as whales surface to exhale and frolic.

Catherine Hill Bay, Spoon Rocks Lookout and Wallarah National Park are among the other popular whale-watching spots in Lake Macquarie.

Go to www.lakemac.com.au for more information on whale-watching spots in Lake Mac.

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