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

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Posted October 23, 2015 by goldcoastwhales in Uncategorized

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