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Splash out and see the whales

EVEN as a veteran whale watcher, Fraser Coast Chronicle photographer Valerie Horton still felt a wave of excitement as she stepped on board the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat the Ocean Defender recently.

Mrs Horton, who was a guest on board the foundation’s Ultimate Ecotour, said it was refreshing to see the look of anticipation from visitors, who were set to experience an encounter with the whales for the first time.

“Seeing your home town through others eyes really makes you realise that you take for granted what is right on our doorstep,” Mrs Horton said.

“We were only an hour out of the harbour and you could see what all of the fuss was about.

“If you can, plan a trip out so you don’t miss out on seeing for yourself the affect a whale has on a mere mortal.”

Pacific Whale Foundation has been conducting whale research for 31 years in Hervey Bay and on July 14 this year, started the Hervey Bay Ultimate Whale watch ecotours.

All the cruises are led by certified naturalists who also collect on-board research.

Founder Greg Kaufman said the positive response the crew had received from the public had been “overwhelming”.

“We are so happy with the take up from the public for our cruises and especially proud we are carrying many first time whale watchers from the local area.

“Our customers love that they can join with the researchers in their studies aboard and appreciate that the interpretation of whale behaviour is coming from experts in the field.”

Mr Kaufman said Hervey Bay has a truly unique marine ecosystem where humpback whales are overtly interested in whale watch vessels and passengers, resulting in some of the most close-up personal encounters you’ll find anywhere.

“Our whale watches are amazing eco-adventures led by experts who care about the whales and want to ensure all our guests become aware of the whales’ ecology and habitat needs – while having an amazing and entertaining experience.

“Usually once people go on a whale watch, they are hooked and can’t wait to do it again.

“We had a visitor from Victoria who went on three times during her stay last week.

“She said that had she discovered the joy of whale watching on her first day of her vacation to Hervey Bay, she would have gone everyday.”

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