Whale of a Time

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Enchanting Oceania

Every year up to 3000 humpback whales use Hervey Bay as a stopover during their migratory return from Antarctica. Sheltered from the currents and winds by Fraser Island, the bay’s waters are calm and mild. After the tempestuous Southern Ocean, the location provides a place for whales to rest and develop layers of blubber for the next migration south.

Tourists flock to Hervey Bay between August and November, when sightings are virtually guaranteed to occur. Several operators provide whale-watching tours from the town’s Urangan Harbour to Platypus Bay, but MV Spirit of Hervey Bay is the only vessel with underwater viewing windows. This ensures passengers can witness the antics of these 15-metre, 40-tonne creatures both above and below the waterline.

On the day I went in search of whales, I learned that the whales are apparently relaxed by the warm temperatures and untroubled by the tourist activity on the water.

To see these magnificent mammals dive and surface was memorable, to see displays of tail and fin-slapping or breaching was spectacular – a real privilege. When surfacing took place right beside the boat it was a heart-stopping encounter of mutual curiosity. There was constant communication between whales in each pod, which could be heard if the tour operator submerged a microphone in the water. Mesmerized, there wasn’t a sound from anyone on-board the boat.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.