Cape Solander - Sydney

Cape Solander provides a good vantage site to view Humpback whales on their annual migration from Antarctica to the warmer waters of Australia's east coast to the north. During this migration the whales keep close to the coastline to avoid the southerly moving East Australian Current.

The northerly migration begins in May and ends around the end of July each year.

For the journey back to Antarctica the Humpback whales swim further out to sea along with the East Australian Current and cannot be seen from land.

Cape Solander is a natural area. Cliffs, strong winds, uneven surfaces and slippery surfaces can be harmful. Children need to be closely supervised.

Every year from early May to the end of July Wayne and his volunteers, man the Whale Watching Deck and count every whale that they see pass by and submit their findings to the National Park & Wildlife Service.

Cape Solander Looking South
To the South
Old Whale Counting Table
Old Whale Counting Table
Whale Watching Deck
New Whale Watching Deck
Cape Solander Looking North
To the North

North Migration's Last Travellers - Off Sydney, August 1st, 2005

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
Humpback Tail
Humpback Tail Up and Diving
Two Humpbacks Together
Two Humpbacks Together

Whale watching platform
Watching Deck, 2014
Whale watching platform
Watching Deck, 2014
Whale watcher

What scientists already know is that the East Australian Current:

  • Carries five to 10 times the volume of Sydney Harbour per second or 5-10 million cubic litres per second, with a strong influence to 500 metres depth and as wide as 200 kilometres.
  • Has its origins in the Coral Sea where, it begins as a surface stream tens of metres thick on the boundary between the Coral and Tasman Seas and is strongest in summer and weakest in winter.
  • Generates ocean eddies as broad as 200 kilometres across, rotating mainly anti-clockwise at up to four knots at the edge. These can be more than one kilometre deep and have a life of up to a year.
  • Frequently crosses onto the continental shelf and moves close inshore.
  • Causes upwellings where it moves away from the coast at places like Cape Byron, Smoky Cape and Sugarloaf Point, drawing nutrient-rich water from a depth of 200 metres or more which can be 5 degrees C cooler. Turning green after sunlight causes phytoplankton to grow, this water contrasts with the nutrient-poor water of the EAC.
  • Can be slowed down or reversed by southerly winds within 10 nautical miles of shore.

Sea surface temperatures - CSIRO

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