August 09, 2011
During our time down under we had managed to miss the whale season wherever we went, either being too early or too late. Be it the Head of Bight on the Nullarbor Plains, Sydney or Western Australia – we were always out of luck. This time we wanted to make it better and booked a whale watching trip in Hervey Bay, that being the primary reason for us to go there at all! Will we be more successful this time?
We decided against a boat with too many people (some bring up to 120 whale watchers out at once!) and booked a 3/4-day trip as that would give us more time out on the sea, therefore hopefully increasing our chances.
We were picked up (almost missed our ride!) in the morning and brought to Urangan. After checking in on the boat, a catamaran called “Freedom III”, we soon left the Sandy Straits Harbour and were headed for the Platypus Bay close to Fraser Island.
The trips in the previous days had been quite successful, always spotting a number of humpback whales, which kept our spirits high. And this time we weren’t disappointed. At maybe 11:00am we had the first sightings! It didn’t take too long until an amazing thing happened: right next to our boat a humpback slowly ascended to the surface, swam along for a short time and then dived back under water .. wow!
We managed to shoot a video – it’s amazing:
The rest of the day we spent watching out for more whales, and the boat tried to cross the whales’ paths a few times in order to get as close as possible. We had quite a few more sightings:
In between we were served great snacks and lunch. A dolphin played with us on the way as well, trying to outrun our boat right before our bow, and he had no trouble keeping up with the speed – awesome!
We could see the whales blowing out, surfacing and diving several times. We were even lucky enough to see them jump (called breaching) a few times. To take a picture of that you have to scan the whole area fully alert, we could rarely get a good shot:
We saw a pair of two humpback whales swimming along a few times:
And here again:
We weren’t lucky enough to attract further humpbacks and make them come straight beside our boat, they always kept a distance of a few meters. However, we had seen quite a few today and returned happily to the harbour.
In the end of the day we took a walk along Scarness Beach close to our homebase. There we found a sculpture of the Moha-Moha, an ancient sea creature known to the Aboriginals. If we hadn’t known better we had considered it to arise straight from Loch Ness!