Hervey Bay on Southern Queensland’s east coast is known as one of the best locations in the world to have a close-up experience with the magnificent Humpback Whales.
Each year the humpbacks migrate from Antarctica along the east coast of Australia to their final destination, the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands, a distance of some 5,000km. While in this region, the females give birth to their offspring in the sub-tropical warmer waters.
Before taking on their 5,000Km return trip to Antarctica, the humpbacks, now with their newly born calves, rest for a few days in Hervey Bay. This enables the females to rest and gain strength after giving birth to their calves, before commencing the long swim back to Antarctica.
It is during this rest time that some of the best close up encounters are experienced. The humpbacks appear to enjoy and encourage human contact. They swim very close to the boats in small groups of three and four and put on fantastic displays of spy hops, body rolls, tail slapping, pec slaps and fluke up dives.
The whales also seem to delight in coming very close to the boats releasing air from their blow holes spraying air and water over the people on the boats. This elicits a wonderful reaction from the people. Their screams of delight, yells and excited comments, are a further encouragement to the whales.
Having a huge humpback whale raising its head in a spy hop within two meters from the side of the boat is a memorable experience that you would not want to miss.
They appear to love doing this as well as gliding past the sides of the boats rolling the heads to the side with their eyes clearly out of the water seemingly to get a better look at us humans looking at them.
I had the feeling that both the whales and us were saddened when it came time for the boats to return to Hervey Bay marina.