NakedHungryTraveller.com’s Tom Neal Tacker visited Hervey Bay last year and discovered what all the fuss is about. Here’s an excerpt from his story from July 2011…
Do southern humpback whales frolic? It’s a question I often ask myself whenever I get close to a group of “humpies” in the Great Sandy Strait off Fraser Island.
Like kids on a sugary-lolly rush, two adolescent male whales play near our boat with boundless enthusiasm, flipper slapping, tail wagging, body rolling and head bobbing. They run the full gamut of recognised southern humpback whale play, to the audible delight of the passenger about Quick Cat II.
I’m inclined to say yes, humpbacks do frolic in the limelight. A touch of anthromorphism? Possibly, yes. Irresistible? Definitely, yes.
Nowadays, passengers are encouraged to create lots of noise when whales are sighted to attract their attention, hopefully encouraging enough curiosity in the whales for them to linger around the boat. When I first ventured on a southern humpback whale sighting adventure off Hervey Bay 12 years ago, the overall experience was marked by hushed solemnity, as if by simply being silent in the presence of these endangered animals was sufficient thrill in itself. But times have changed and much has been learned about southern humpback whale behaviour.
The number of whales that migrate along the eastern seaboard of mainland Australia has increased to such an extent that whale sighting are no longer considered rare events.
From late winter until mid-spring they begin the long migration south, heading back to Antarctic waters. Now it’s commonplace to see southern humpback whales all along the eastern shore, from the northern extremity of Queensland’s outer Great Barrier Reef to southern Tasmania. But Queensland’s Great Sandy Strait is undoubtedly whale watching centre.
To read the rest of Tom’s story visit http://nakedhungrytraveller.com/article.php?story=1208.