Whale watching in Hervey Bay

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September 27th 2009
Published: September 27th 2009
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From Noosa we travelled further north to Hervey Bay. This is principally the gateway for Fraser Island but it is also the "whale watching capital of the world" so we could hardly refuse the opportunity to go meet some friendly whales. It is a well-known whale watching spot in July to October as Hervey Bay is en route of the humpback whales southern migration down to the Antartic waters in the southern hemisphere summer months. Hervey Bay is a sheltered bay where female whales come to give birth in a safe environment before sticking around in the warm waters of the bay for a couple of months. This allows their calves, weighing 1.5 tonnes at birth, to up their weight to about 4 tonnes, by drinking 600 litres of milk a day!! so they are large enough to then cope with the cooler Antartic seas.

We joined a morning tour on a particularly windy day. It was touch and go whether the boat would go out as the water was quite rough and those landlubbers who didn't travel well were given the opportunity of deferring to a later day when the winds should have died down. We only had that day as we were booked on for Fraser Island the next day so we took a sea sickness pill and got on the boat. It certainly was a rough day and Sarah was looking a bit green around the gills, but this time she didn't disgrace herself unlike quite a few of the other passenges, yuck!

We were worried that the rough conditions would deter the whales but apparently they like the waves and tend to be more active in such conditions, so it looked like our luck would be in and it certainly was. We sailed for about 1.5 hours out into the bay before meeting our first pod. Humpbacks usually travel in small pods of between 1 and 3 whales but there were plenty of pods in the bay. Humpbacks are the 5th largest whale in the world and they are particularly good as a whale watching target as they spend a lot of time at the surface.

During the couple of hours we were out in the thick of it we saw several different whales but the highlight was a particularly playful whale that was showing off for about 20-30 minutes breeching (full back flip out of the water), head plunging (head vertically out of water before smacking back down into water), pec splashing (swimming along on side, repeatedly hitting the water with pectoral fin) and, best of all, poking his tail out of the water for about a minute. We managed to get some good video and photo footage, which you can see here.

It was quite a expensive activity (about 60 pounds each) but definitely worth it. The whales were awe inspiring and really put on a show. We're very glad to have had this experience.

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