Hervey Bay’s whale-watching season is off to an “unusual” start, with a mother and calf arriving at the Whale Heritage Site several months early.
Torquay resident Sam Gould said she was delighted to see the humpback whales swimming close to shore on Saturday afternoon.
“[We were] walking along Torquay beach like we do every afternoon and there was a mumma and calf swimming,” she said.
“They swam straight past the pier and towards Point Vernon, and there was a lot of krill in the water so they may have been feeding.
“I’ve never seen them in the bay this close to the beach, it was a great surprise as it was my birthday as well.”
Marine Biologist Dr Wally Franklin has studied humpback whales for almost 30 years and agreed it was an extraordinary sighting.
“It’s very unusual, we don’t usually see them coming into Hervey Bay until late August or early September when the flow of mums and calves starts,” Franklin said.
He said it was possible the calf may have been born near Hervey Bay while the mother was migrating north.
“If this is a young mother that has grown up in Hervey Bay she might be completely familiar with the area, and she might be starting a new trend of bringing calves into the bay earlier,” Dr Franklin said.
Whale migration ‘well under way’
He said it was estimated up to 40,000 humpback whales were now migrating north to breeding grounds in the Whitsundays.
“The whales are generally moving past Fraser Island now and up to the Great Barrier Reef,” Franklin said.
“Normally whales come into Hervey Bay as the southern migration begins, and that’s usually mid-July and also when local whale watchers begin their operations.”
In 2019 Hervey Bay was recognised as the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, and one of the best places to see humpback whales up-close.
As coronavirus restrictions ease across the state, whale tour operators in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay are now preparing to welcome domestic tourists for the start of the season in July.
Shane Anderson, from Bundaberg’s Lady Musgrave tour company, said operators were following strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“We have always had a very high standard of cleanliness on the boat and everything we do,” Anderson said.
“We’ve submitted health guideline plans to the Government, which have been approved, so we’re ready to go.”
– ABC / Johanna MarieJump to next article