Geoffrey Ross is wild about whales

We recently announced that HMB Endeavour will have a very special guest on board when she sails from Sydney to Eden on 27–31 October.

Whale expert, Geoffrey Ross, from New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, will be joining the HMB Endeavour crew on the special whale-themed voyage. We sat with Geoff to find out what he was most looking forward to on this very special, one-off trip.

Whale expert Geoff Ross

Whale expert Geoff Ross. Credit: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

What you are most looking forward to on your voyage?

I am looking forward to seeing whales and other marine life in its true place and to work with our on-board ‘students of nature’ and crew alike to learn more about these spectacular animals.  

Like Banks and Solander before their epic trip, I too am looking forward to a voyage of discovery sailing on one of the most distinguished and best known sailing ships in the world. [I’d like] to see pods of whales as described by Joseph Banks in his journals and to record their presence in our logs and pass this information onto other scientists and the community.

How do you conduct the whale count and how important is it to conservation?

On the voyage we will be keeping watch for the blows of whales, we will record what species we see, where they are seen, their abundance and their behaviour. We’ll be keeping a special lookout for Sperm Whales and other large whale species.  

We still know very little about what species occur off our shores and in what numbers. This voyage will help us get some understanding of the occurrence of whale species in State and Commonwealth waters off NSW, and provide us with the opportunity to describe their presence and behaviour to the public in real time using our Australian National Maritime Museum and Wild about Whales websites.

At the end of the voyage we will collate the data and send the sightings to the Australian Antarctic Division for inclusion into their national database.

How many species of whales would you expect to see on the voyage?

That’s part of the fascination. Everything we see will be exciting. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working with cetaceans or how close you’ve been to them or how commonly you have seen them, it’s always exciting. You never know, you may see a Blue Whale, the largest creature ever to be seen on this planet, or you might observe dolphins playing in the ship’s wake; whatever we see will be interesting.  

Of the large whales, I’d predict that we’ll see Humpback Whales, which are currently making their way toward the Great Southern Ocean, Minke Whales, maybe a Broodes or Sei whale… perhaps even Orca. Anything’s possible on a voyage such as this!

Humpback whale near Eden

Humpback whale near Eden. Credit: Eden Whale Festival

We still have spots left on the Sydney to Eden voyage as well as the return Eden to Sydney Voyage (3–7 November). You can also join the fun at the Eden Whale Festival (1–2 November) where HMB Endeavour will be a major attraction. No previous sailing experience is needed as you’ll receive hands-on training on how to sail the 44-metre ship.

Voyage crew will be assigned duties and learn how to set and take in sail, steer the ship, keep watch and climb aloft—all under the guidance of the Master and his professional crew of 16. For more information or to book your place, go to Endeavour Voyages.

To learn more about the whale migration, visit Wild About Whales.

HMB Endeavour returning to Sydney after a voyage.

HMB Endeavour returning to Sydney after a voyage. Credit John Vaughan.