The Captain’s Blog: In search of Minke Whales… by Captain Trevor Jackson


For as long as you live, there are plenty of things we don’t understand about the universe. Physicists try to make a fist of it, but the bottom line is, no one really knows how it all works. The same is true of nature. Despite centuries of study, there is so much we simply don’t understand.

How do geese find their way home after winter?  How does the next generation of monarch butterflies find the exact same tree to hibernate in winter? How do turtles find the same beach year after year? But the baffling question that pops up aboard Spoilsport this time every year is… How is it that these dwarf minke whales know exactly when and where to show up at the same spot and the same time to give us such a fantastic insight into their lives?

Yep, it’s that time of year again. For 6 weeks starting as we go to press this month, the magnificent dwarf minkes will show up and give divers an experience that is unrivalled in the world. The minkes make the DIVER, the creature that is being observed. Here’s how it works.

You come back from a dive on one of the fantastic Ribbon Reef pinnacles. From the stern of the vessel a line is run out on the surface for divers to hold on to. You lay there in the water in your snorkelling gear and wait for a bit. In they come, tentative at first, within a few passes the distance they keep between themselves and you seems markedly reduced. They disappear again for a few moments and you think ‘wow that was cool, hope they come back’.

You lay there for a second before being suddenly cast into shadow by another diver, you turn to see who it is and hey presto, there’s an 8 metre dwarf minke whale that has come right in to check YOU out. Literally an arm’s length away. The gentle giant spies you with his thoughtful dark eyes, pivots almost imperceptivity from side to side, swims away, then comes back even closer. You could reach out and touch him, but you don’t, not wanting to upset the pure tranquility of this extraordinary experience.

Every year like clockwork during June and July, the Ribbon Reefs are blessed with these mighty creatures, and you could easily be blessed with several encounters like the one I’ve just described.  Spoilsport is one of very few licensed offshore liveaboards in Australia that run specific minke Interaction trips. Our itinerary is changed especially to give you the longest and closest interactions; and you could be doing it this winter!

You won’t forget it for as long as you live.

Captain Trevor Jackson

Find out about the Mike Ball’s Minke Whale Dive Expeditions here!

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions operates exciting scuba diving expeditions on custom-built, award-winning liveaboard Spoilsport, to some of the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Enjoy spectacular biodiversity on the northern Great Barrier Reef including the world famous Cod Hole, or venture out into the remote Coral Sea for exciting big fish action, shark encounters and excellent visibility. Find out more at

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