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OUR VESSEL & CREW

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

a person sitting on a boat

Millie Stell
Captain

At a young age, Millie is already a veteran in whale watching eco-tours. With amazing travels afloat around the globe, Millie loves the opportunity to showcase the marine environment wherever possible.

Qualified in both deck and engineering mediums, Millie also gives the ultimate attention to her passengers. “Hervey Bay has beckoned as the ultimate in viewing amazing wildlife in a natural and unique environment, and to share that with others is the best ever!”

Green Living Tip: Experience wildlife as it exists, natural behaviours in a natural environment.


Amber Alexander in a blue shirt

Jessica McCabe
Naturalist

With a double major Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Ecology, Jess  has a well rounded knowledge in both native and invasive wildlife across a range of ecosystems.  Jess has a passion for marine mammal science and conservation and loves to explain fun facts about “cool” creatures.

“My role aligns with my passion for whale conservation and the thrill of presenting to our customers the facts and stories about our marine wildlife gives the opportunity for all to understand the importance of a healthy and diverse marine environment”

Green Living Tip: Lets change the bad practices of the past by embracing technology that enhances our standard of living in harmony with nature.


a person posing for the camera

Leigh Saunders
Naturalist

Leigh Saunders grew up on the South East Coast of the UK, where she spent her childhood exploring the rock pools and strand lines. She followed her love of the natural world by completing a BSc with honours in Ecology & Conservation/Wildlife Biology, where she then went on to work on many research projects around the world including the UK, Africa and Australia.

This included a remote research station in Tanzania where she studied Baboons, Elephants and Lions. More recently Leigh has spent her time teaching Australian children about our amazing marine life and how to protect our oceans.”In this role it is so important to engage and adapt with an audience, making sure that all can experience not only the delight in being a part of a natural behaviour, but understand how this can impact our own daily lives”

Green Living Tip: With young children of my own I know how much cheap plastic ‘stuff’ is being marketed to kids. Sadly, if we keep buying it, the companies will keep making it.

Many children’s parties have huge numbers of balloons, single use plastic items and hard plastics that are simply thrown away at the end. Most people do not realise that something that is used for just 2 hours can last forever in the environment, effecting so many animals and ecosystems.

So instead try decorating with dancing inflatables, kites, pin wheels, garden spinners and flags. Use biodegradable plates and cups. Remember, children follow by example and what you do now will effect who they will become, so let your imagination soar and who knows what creative one of a kind idea you might come up with for their next party.


a woman talking on a cell phone

Dr Kate Sprogis
Researcher

With degrees in marine biology, ecology and philosophy, Kate has had extensive field work and publications in whales, dolphins and dugongs to name a few, and brings knowledge from around the globe in research techniques and presentations on our marine wildlife. Not only presenting findings to the public, Kate has presented at conferences throughout Europe and Australasia.

Kate is particularly interested in controlled exposure experiments and is assisting to complete our study into the impacts of the commercial swim with whales practices. An avid photographer, Kate uses her National Geographic Explorer status to further explore our globe in the pursuit of marine life. “Studying whales in both their feeding grounds of Antarctica and the breeding and birthing grounds of Queensland allows a unique perspective of their lifestyle”

Green Living Tip: Live life as you would like others to do, lead, don’t follow and make a difference yourself.


a person wearing a purple shirt standing in front of a building

Felicity Holder
Office Manager

As an advocate of sustainable tourism, Felicity has used her degree in Business in roles with Fraser Coast Tourism and Events, Mackay Tourism and Flight Centre to prepare for her time with PWFEAA. A Qld government Young Tourism Leader, Felicity loves working with others that hold the same values and passion, “being a voice for those who do not have one”

Managing our diverse and busy office and Ocean Store, Felicity ensures unparalleled customer experience from start to finish, making all parts of your experience with us are “the best ever”

Green Living Tip: Its easy if you think how you can make an impact, reuse as much as possible and think of the adverse impact you will make when everything you use is at some time discarded into the environment.


a man sitting in front of a blue car

Andrew Ellis
Operations Director and Captain

With a life spent on the water, and a thirty year history with whale watching in Hervey Bay, Andrew brings incredible experience to the team. “Nothing is more exciting than to watch the expectations of our guests fulfilled each day on Ocean Defender. The excitement and passion shown by all aboard when they experience humpback whales up close and personal is a very special moment for me each and every day.”

Andrew’s passion for our marine environment is shown by his love of joining school students for discussions on how we can all make a difference, and ensuring harmony with our increasingly pressured natural environments.

Green Living Tip: Rethink the need for single use products, the many alternatives are so very much available and so much better for ourselves and our environment.

a drawing of a person