Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

The sandy straits by Hervey Bay and Fraser Island are one of the best places to go whale watching in the world

The boat glided through the clear, blue seas off Hervey Bay, past the sandy dunes of world heritage listed Fraser Island, and then slowed down as we reached open water.

A spurt of air rose up above the sea on the horizon and we were told to start waving and clapping to get their attention. Much to my amazement it worked and the pod of whales turned and started swimming towards us. Under the bright sun I watched as the ripples in the still sea began to get ever closer until I could see the fins of the massive humpback whales as they dived and made their way toward the boat.

Humpback whales are identifiable by their distinctive dorsal fins and get their name from the humped appearance before they dive.

A mother humpback whale, accompanied by her young calf, moved steadily and rhythmically, arching their backs before rolling forward and diving under. Tails slapped the water and a left a footprint of a slick, greasy film in the water where the whale had been.

I held my breath for a few moments and then the whale resurfaced, blowing out a powerful jet of air that left a stream of mist that glistening rainbow colours over the glittering sea.

Mother humpback whale and her young calf making their long, annual migration.

As we waved and clapped the whales, lead by the curious calf with the mother following diligently behind, came right up to the boat. Through the clear waters you could see just how huge these gentle giants of the sea are as they frolicked in the water. The young calf dipped and dived, slapping its tail against the water, waving pectoral fins and encircling its mother as it played in the waters.

The whales swam up, under and around the boat getting a good look at us, their incredible size making me feel like an ant on a tiny boat. I couldn’t help but gasp into the water with amazement as I saw every ripple, barnacle and detail of these massive creatures through the clear water as the calf eye balled us making me wonder who was watching who!

The curious whales came right up the boat to check us out

Hervey Bay’s sheltered waters are bordered by the world’s largest sand island in the world Fraser Island, covered with mystical rainforests, fresh water lakes and massive sand dunes. The calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait are reputedly the best place in the world to view humpback whales. 

Humpback whales are named after their habit of breaking the water surface with a large area of its back while diving and they are the fifth largest animal on the planet, growing up to 15 meters long and weighing the equivalent of 11 elephants of 600 people each!

The whales migrate annually from mating and giving birth in warmer, tropical waters around Cairns, Far North Queensland to their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic.

It’s hard to believe just how massive these whales are until you see them up close

Every year between August and early November thousands of humpback whales on their annual migration meander into Hervey Bay’s sheltered waters to rest, to allow their young calves to develop thick layers of blubber needed to survive in the Antarctic and for their mums to teach them a couple of new tricks. 

Humpback whales are very active, acrobatic and curious and this means Hervey Bay is a great place to see the whales at play, leaping, rolling and breaching.

The whales circled us and seemed to put on a show of fins, tails and blows until in a grand finale one lifted himself out of the water in an immense show of power, showing the full extent of his impressive and collossal body in a magnificent display before crashing back into the water with a huge splash.

A humpback whale breeching in an incredible show of power. Photo credit hervey-bay-whale-watching.com.au

The boat rocked and I couldn’t help but feel awe inspired by these gigantic but graceful and peaceful whales, belittled like an ant to their presence but never threatened. 

After the incredible display the whales seemingly became bored of us and with a flick and splash of the tail they slowly and rhythmically began to dip and dive away off to investigate another boat and explore other parts of the bay. Leaving us with our eyes peeled, focused on the horizon, looking for another tell tale ripple of waves, burst of air or flap of a tail of another pod of whales in the distance.

The tail hangs in the air for a few moments before slapping down on the water as the whale dives.

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1 comment

mkrikava October 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Very cool! I had a blast in Australia when I went! One of the most beautiful places I have ever been! I actually talk about it in one of my posts. check it out! http://sayonaratravel.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-sunburnt-country/

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