Humpback Whale Research Programs


Through an association with the Southern Cross University’s Whale Research Centre, Whale Watching Byron Bay is assisting in the collection of a variety of research data relating to the annual humpback whale migration. You can become one of the team involved with this research project by enrolling in one of our whale research programs.

Whale Watching Byron Bay has a variety of programs that will enable you not only to witness this amazing event but also to contribute to us having a better understanding of the whales and their marine environment.


The Research


Photo Identification

Currently the most effective way to identify humpback whales is by photographing identifiable physical features. The underside of the tail has a pattern unique to each individual whale, like a humans fingerprint. This makes photos of this physical feature invaluable in identifying humpback whales from migration to migration – and at different points on their migration path. Whale Watching Byron Bay has contributed to a number of positive identifications verified by the Southern Cross University’s Whale Research Centre.



Details of a whales behavior help us understand how whales interpret and interact with their environment and with each other. This information is best sourced through written and photo/video observations.


Whale Song Recording

Humpback whales produce a series of sounds that form a complex acoustic pattern known as whale song. By listening to and recording this song, researchers can learn about communication patterns between individual whales and relate that to their behavioral responses.


Weather and Sea Conditions

As with any research it is important to correlate it with the surrounding environmental conditions such as sea surface conditions, current velocity, swell height and sea temperature.




Marine Wildlife Photography and Videography

We will introduce you to techniques in digital photography allowing you to record images (useful for the purpose research) of humpback whales, dolphins, turtles along with other marine life and a variety of seabirds. You require no photographic experience and we provide all equipment including digital SLR cameras, zoom lenses and High definition video equipment. You will also be provided with a DVD containing images and footage recorded during the program.


Vessel Handling
As part of the research team you will crew our purpose built RIBs (rigid hulled inflatable vessel). You will learn to handle these dynamic vessels, interpret sea conditions and how to responsibly interact with the humpback whales and other marine wildlife.


Marine Tour Guiding
With the growth in the wildlife tour industry the opportunity for operators to contribute to research is vast. You will learn techniques required when combining tourism with research to deliver an informative and entertaining interpretive wildlife tour.




Your accommodation will be in a comfortable Backpackers hostel situated in the heart of Byron Bay. You will stay in a shared room (four bunks) with bathroom, kitchen, lounge, restaurant, bar and internet facilities. The hostel is situated within two hundred meters of Byron Bay’s beautiful Main Beach and two hundred meters to Whale Watching Byron Bay’s headquarters.


Accommodation upgrades are available on request.


Program Dates


Programs commence every Monday.


Program Costs


1 Week Program      AUD$ 1295.00

2 Week Program      AUD$ 2395.00

4 Week Program      AUD$ 3995.00



Airport transfers

Accommodation (quad share) for the duration of your preferred program

All meals

Up to ten whale watching research tours per week

Whale and marine wildlife seminar

3 x Research team t shirts

Research Team Spray Jacket

All program related transport

Weekly Team BBQ



Air fares


Travel insurance