We have been dreaming of exploring the white sandy beaches and clear blue waters of South-Western Australia for years. So to get there this year, despite all odds, is a dream come true.
Our arrival in Esperance coincided with the arrival of two mother-and-calf pairs of Southern Right Whales. Every day we stood on the shore and watched as the two calves splashed, played, and fed. The Mothers would often turn on their backs, pectoral-fins in the air, and tenderly cradle the babies on their chests. It was beautiful to witness their inseparable bond.
One morning, as I was perched on a rock taking photos, one of the baby whales swam over to less than ten metres from me. He began with spy-hopping, which was amazing to see, but then he started playing with a clump of floating seaweed. He would lift it up on his head, like a toupee, then mouth it, showing his baby-pink tongue and his clean set of baleen.
He continued this entertaining behaviour for almost half an hour as I laughed and watched, and felt fortunate to be there. I was sure he knew I was right there (they are highly intelligent beings), but was glad that my presence didn’t seem to frighten him.
An hours drive away in Cape Le Grand National Park, the sandy beaches are dazzlingly white. Lucky Bay was our favourite. There, a special population of kangaroos forage on the stunning beach. These sea-food-munching skippies are quite tame and allowed us to get the obligatory “Look at me with a kangaroo on the beach” photo.
We knew Cape Le Grand was also home to both species of seadragon: leafy and weedy. But although we joked about it, we never expected to see both species together and capture it in a photo! These creatures are incredibly elusive and hard to find, so to see even one alone is a privilege.
After having this one-in-a-million encounter we joked that next time we’d get a seadragon and a whale in the same shot. Now that does seem far-fetched, but if there is anything we’ve learnt from 2020 so far, it’s to expect the unexpected!
Photos by Scott Portelli & Rosie Leaney using Olympus AU & NZ OMD cameras and Mavic 2 Pro drone.