Lonely Planet Writer

Drone footage shows a whale and school of dolphins ‘playing’ off the Australian coast

An Australian drone photographer recently captured this incredible scene; a southern southern right whale and school of dolphins swimming together just off the coast. Jaimen Hudson lives in Esperance, Western Australia, and is passionate about the area’s marine life. He was delighted to have had his drone handy when the scene presented itself.

The southern white whale surrounded by dolphins.
The southern white whale surrounded by dolphins. Image by Jaimen Hudson

“I’d been filming the whale as it slowly made its way along West Beach”, he tells Lonely Planet. “Afterwards, I was sitting talking to some mates, when one of them said there was something swimming with the whale. I got him to run over to my house as quickly as possible to grab more drone batteries, so luckily I was able to capture the footage you’re now seeing.”

Wharton Beach.
Wharton Beach. Image by Jaimen Hudson

As Jaimen explains, whales are frequent visitors to the area, though it’s rare to see them interacting so closely with dolphins. “Right whales migrate from Antarctica to the Great Australian Bight between the months of May and November each year. We usually see them in Esperance between June and September, as they pass through. I imagine they interact with dolphins offshore and out of human sight; it isn’t something we get to see all the time. I’ve been flying drones since early 2015, and this is the first time I’ve captured an interaction like this.”

It looks as though the creatures are playing. What does Jaimen think? “I’m unsure”, he says. “I know dolphins are incredibly intelligent creatures who seem to be playing constantly. They just happened to swim by as the whale was there and went over to interact with it. There was certainly never any aggression shown between the two species.”

Jaimen and his drone in Western Australia.
Jaimen and his drone in Western Australia.

Following his passion for drone photography, Jaimen has travelled around the world. “I’ve been lucky to travel through Canada and America last year, where I filmed the incredibly beautiful Canadian Rockies, as well the famous Venice Beach area. I then travelled through Europe in May this year, and spoke at a drone conference in the UK. My favourite place to film is around Australia though. The Great Australian Bight is a favourite, as well as my hometown of Esperance of course!”