Vessel: Ocean Defender

Type: Rigid Inflatable Boat (“RIB”)

Length: 12 meters

Power: 4 x 300hp 4 stroke Yamaha outboard engines

Top Speed: 43 knots

Facilities: Full size walk in toilet

Seating: Water level, forward facing, covered seating with panoramic views

Capacity: 40 passengers maximum


Scott Whitcombe was born in Auckland, New Zealand but grew up in Hervey Bay. He’s the Skipper on Ocean Defender, and has been working for seven years on whalewatching vessels all over Australia. Scott holds certificates in tourism and marine studies, as well as his Master 5 and Master Engine Driver 2. Scott loves sharing his knowledge about the region and is looking forward to a great whale season. 

 Fun Fact: Scott loves a good game of squash in his free time.

Alyssa Giffin is from the Gold Coast, Queensland and holds a Master of Science degree from James Cook University and Bachelor of Science from Griffith University. She is a certified Divemaster and has worked as a Naturalist and Research Assistant for various companies operating in the Great Barrier Reef. She’s excited to be in Hervey Bay and can’t wait to share her experiences with guests in Hervey Bay.

 Fun Fact: Alyssa has also worked as a Park Ranger for Parks Victoria.

Madeline (Maddie) Buresh is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Vertebrate Biology from Stony Brook University. Maddie completed a semester abroad in Australia at Deakin University and volunteered in Warrnambool with the Middle Island Maremma Project. She is passionate about marine conservation and educating the public.

 Fun Fact: If she could be any animal, Maddie would be a penguin.

Rachael Nidiffer comes to Hervey Bay by way of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from James Madison University. Rachael started with Pacific Whale in 2015 as an intern with the Research Team in Maui, Hawaii. She has since been a Research Assistant for our long-term photo-identification project in Hervey Bay. She loves interacting with guests who travel from all over the world to see the gentle giants.

 Fun Fact: Rachael has a one-eyed cat named Pirate.

Jaimi Raveneau was born and raised in Hervey Bay, Queensland. She is a long-time member of Pacific Whale Foundation and has been volunteering on our photo-ID research projects since 2015. Jaimi has worked as a deckhand for six years in Hervey Bay and can’t wait to see the whales return this season.

 Fun Fact: Jaimi loves snakes and is a reptile handler at the Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary.