Hervey Bay Whale Watching 17th October 2015   Leave a comment

For many years I have promised myself that I would travel to Hervey Bay to the protected waters of Platypus Bay to see how the whale watching experience compares to the Gold Coast where I photographed the Humpback Whales for a number of  seasons.

I have read and heard from other people that Hervey Bay is the place to go to see the magnificent humpback whales come out to play, where on the Gold Coast the whales are passing up and down our shores but are not stopping and spending days at a time. They are on a mission when they leave Antarctica to get to warmer waters where they give birth, some don’t quite make it to the warmer waters and give birth on the Gold Coast but after a few days the mums and calves move on. Humpback whales arrive in Hervey Bay from late July and remain until late October when they begin their return to the southern ocean. On the Gold Coast, the viewing season is a lot longer. It commences on the 1st June and continues through until the end of October. These majestic creatures have made Hervey Bay a regular stop on their annual migration to Antarctica. Mothers and their calves relax in Platypus Bay for extended periods and are comfortable with the whale watching boats which carefully manoeuvre between the pods. The sightings are said to be an experience of a life time.

As the years have gone by, the whales seem increasingly comfortable with the cruise vessels and often come so close you can almost reach out and touch them. Naturally the tour operators adhere strictly to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Hervey Bay is a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from my new home in Tin Can Bay. I realised when I made the booking to go whale watching that it was late in the season but I didn’t realise that they only had one more week of seeing the whales and the season would come to an end. As the skipper said on the boat, in one week there won’t be a whale in sight.

Fortunately I had a fantastic morning. I have never seen so many whales and calves and when you look at some of my photos, you will see how close they came to the boat. The skipper of the boat I went on apologised as we got off the cruise for the lack of surface activity from the whales. He put the lack of activity down to being the end of the season. I didn’t care about the activity, I was absolutely mesmerised by the share numbers of these magnificent creatures in the bay. We did see one breech, totally unexpected of course but it was the best breech I have ever witnessed by a calf. The calf reached for the sky and managed to get it’s entire body clear of the water. What an amazing sight.

I do know that next year Hervey Bay will be calling me back and I am more than eager to get back there to catch some of the play these gentle giants are known for in the protected waters of Platypus Bay.

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Fraser Island in the back ground.

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An inquisitive calf spy hops to see what is happening on the surface.

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I was holding my breathe as this mum came straight towards the boat. I had to stop photographing as my lens couldn’t fit her in. It was beautiful to watch the mother nudge her calf and the calf bend it’s body in play to move away from her, immediately turning so as not to loose sight of its mother and followed the mothers fluke.

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Battle scars left from males competing for this female.

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I only saw one fluke and I put that down to the mothers and calves staying on the surface the majority of the time. Generally when you see a fluke, the whale is taking a dive.

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A little bit of activity from a calf.

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And for some enjoyable reading about how Hervey Bay Whale Watching began, click on the link below.

http://www.herveybaywhalewatch.com.au/about/our-history

Posted October 23, 2015 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

Whale watching on board Spirit of Gold Coast – Friday 6 Sept 2013   Leave a comment

My love of the majestic Humpback whale has not waned as I discovered today.

The  Gold Coast had a Public Holiday last week and due to the nature of the business I work for, I had to work the holiday but I was given today off in lieu.

All week I had been thinking about what I could do for the day and with strong winds earlier in the week, I doubted that it would be any good for whale watching.  But today when I woke the weather was perfect, so I grabbed my day free and boarded Spirit of Gold Coast after a 3 year absence and went in search of the almighty Humpback whales.

Late in the season, the whales are now heading south back to Antarctic waters for the Summer. We saw a number of small pods, two in each pod and close to shore.

With all the whale watching I have done, I have experienced many great encounters but for someone who hasn’t seen whales for such a long time, nothing would have disappointed me today.

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Sadly I cannot foresee another opportunity to visit the whales this year. While I do have my weekends free, the whale boats are fill to capacity in the weekends and it makes it very difficult to move around with a couple of cameras hanging off me. Who knows, the urge may get the better of me.

Posted September 6, 2013 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

August 8th, 2011   Leave a comment

While I seldom get out to see the whales these days, it is always nice when I do.

This particular day I went out on the Whales in Paradise boat named Mahi Mahi that leaves from the river in Surfers Paradise. In the past I have photographed Mahi Mahi with whales in close proximity to the vessel but today I was seeing the whales from a different angle, aboard the vessel Mahi Mahi that sits very low in the water.

We had to travel 10 nautical miles off the coast and I was told by the crew that the distance has been the norm for this season. It’s a long way to go in search of whales and means the time with the whales is shorter due to the time it takes to get back to shore.

We saw a few pods of whales but the ones that caught our eyes were the ones that one tail and pec slapping and with that play, there is generally breaching.

I was rewarded with a number of breaches but caught up in the moment and the beauty of it all, I didn’t even bother to try and lift my camera to catch the splendour of these creatures as they dived deep and then with a flick of their tail, eject themselves out of the water, with a grand finale as they come down on their belly. In human talk, I would call it a belly-flop and it hurts.

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In 4 days I am heading off on my annual trip to Africa. Upon my return, if my work load is not too busy, I am going to take a 3 day weekend and spend it on a whale boat in Hervey Bay. Hervey bay is known for it’s resting place for the Humpbacks on their annual migration. It is common for whales to stop in for a week at a time, to rest and frolic in the calm waters of Platypus Bay on the western side of Fraser Island before continuing on the journey back to rich feeding grounds of Antarctica. The sightings I have heard are remarkable and not to be forgotten.

Stay tuned for more this season.

Posted August 15, 2011 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

Humpback Whales on their migration north, Gold Coast, Australia, July 2011   Leave a comment

On Monday, I had the day off  work and with my new camera in hand, I headed out whale watching aboard Sea World’s Whale Watching boat. I thought it would be a great opportunity to really test out how fast the camera works. Unfortunately it was one of those days, lots of whales but not one of them was doing anything to get excited about.

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This was the most exciting it got, a young whale appearing to try and attract the attention of another whale as they later joined up.

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I got off the boat 3 hours later feeling very flat but won’t give up yet. I have another Monday off before I go to Africa so I will try my luck again in about 10 days time.

If that fails, I am planning a trip to Hervey Bay where the whales go to rest on their long migration, after I return from Africa.

I am hoping to get there at the end of September.

Posted July 29, 2011 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

Whales 24 October, 2009   2 comments

With only a week to go till the end of the whale season, the whales are still out there but are more interested in getting back to Antarctica than entertaining us.

Today was my last day for the season as I am heading off to Canada in a couple of days to see the Polar Bears in Churchill.

I was really hoping for an exciting morning and even managed to talk my 20 year old son to come out for the morning. Unfortunately the most the whales offered us, was short down times and lots of flukes.

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The scar marks on this fluke are most probably the result of an Orca attack.

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I wish every one who has followed my whale site this season a very safe and happy ending to the year and I look forward to bringing more stories and photos to you in 2010.

The season starts on June 1st.

Posted October 24, 2009 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

Whales 20 October, 2009   2 comments

After a week of not feeling well, it was good to get out on the water again. We saw, as we so often do now, a mother and her calf just off the beach, too close to stop but not far away we could see lots of splashing going on, so out we headed.

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A pod of 4 whales put on a lovely show of pec slapping.

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There was moments when 2 of the whales were on their backs at the same time, lifting their pecs and slapping them hard down on the surface. An amazing sight and sound.

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IMG_3574 The pod of 4 whales broke into 2 pods of 2, eventually coming back together again. It appeared that there was some males in the pod, which was evident in their competitive display.

Some of you who read this will not be aware that pods of whales do not stay together.  Mothers and their calves are the exception to this. Pods of whales are often together for very short periods. It is possible this pod of 4 had just joined up when we came across them.

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By the time we left the pod of 4, 2 were still together and the other 2 had broken away from the pod and from each other, making 3 pods. There was a breach in the distance before we left, possibly another whale communicating to these whales.

Posted October 21, 2009 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

Whales 14 October, 2009   2 comments

Great day on the water in spite of the howling wind, choppy conditions and another dust storm on the way. You will see from my photos what the conditions were like. Holding my camera with such a long lens in the strong winds is very difficult and there was moments I wanted to give up but I persisted.

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We saw a lot of blows today and we passed a number of pods that were doing very little, till we came across a slightly more active pod. This pod consisted of 6 whales. It appeared that a pod of 4 and a pod of 2 had come together.

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There was a few lunges most probably a male telling another male to get out of the way, the lady was his.

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Then we discovered one of the whales had only half a fluke. Looking at the markings on the fluke, one would think that the whale may have been born this way but I will leave it to the researchers  to make the final conclusion.

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I tried desperately to get 6 whales in a photo but the most I could do is 4.

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I know there is a lot of photos in my album from today but there was some good moments, a little activity and sheer magic to watch 6 whales together.

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I hope you can get the feel of the day from my photos.

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Posted October 15, 2009 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized