Hervey Bay is the world’s first whale heritage area

WHOOPEE!!!

Every year I write about the whale migration up (and down) Australia’s east coast, and visit the whales when they stop for a bit of R&R in the calm waters of Platypus Bay between Fraser Island and the mainland. Every year more and more whales participate in the long swim from Antarctica to the tropical waters around the Whitsundays where the females give birth to their calves. They drop in on the way back down, pausing in Hervey Bay to fatten up their calves for the polar cold. The pre-adult youngsters do a bit of socialising with each other and with the funny little air-breathers on the boats. The adult males are more interested in fighting and sex. (That seems to be fairly common in males of many species.) The adult females look after their calves, which a male will brush aside in his hurry to get to a female, even if she’s not necessarily interested in his advances. (Understandable. She’s just squeezed out a six-metre baby that’s been in her womb for a year and she’s feeding her bub fifty litres of milk a day. She’s probably not feeling very sexy.)

A mother humpback whale and her calf approach the boat in Platypus Bay. They’re so comfortble with the boats they bring their calves up to say hi.

This very young baby whale rolled around on the surface while her mum had a nap under the water. Mum eventually took baby back down to the bottom for more feeding.

The point is the whales hang around for as much as a week or more before they continue on back to the feeding grounds in Antarctica. About anywhere else on the coast they’re moving. They might put on a short performance but in Hervey Bay you’re sure to see a show.

The whale has lifed its snout above the surface to get a better look at the visitors. Its eyes are underwater but it can see just as well through water as air.

She’s looking at the people as she cruises around the boat. She hung around for nearly an hour so the boat couldn’t move.

A closer shot. Her eye is just near that white splotch

In short, our bay is a wonderful place to meet the big cetaceans. The days when whales were hunted are fading but it’s as well to remember that as recently as the nineteen seventies the whales were at the brink of extinction, with only a few hundred remaining. These days somewhere around ten thousand whales make the big swim from the South – and that’s just on the East coast. Others swim up the west coast, and up the coasts of Africa.  Most of our visitors are humpbacks but as the years go by, we’re seeing the occasional Minke and Southern right whales.

She’s deliberately spraying water everywhere and some of us got wet.

Blowing rainbows

Hervey Bay takes the whales very seriously. For the months from late July to late October the whale- watching boats are busy taking visitors out to see the whales. We have a week-long whale festival in late July to welcome the whales back to our bay. You’ll see statues of whales in three different places in what’s a fairly small town. There’s one at the cultural centre, named after Nala, a female who comes into the Bay every year. There’s one at the water park, and there’s a fairly simple one at the harbour, greeting visitors as they step off buses to get to the boats.

And now the Bay’s claim to be one of THE great spots to meet the ocean’s giants has been officially recognised. Hervey Bay is the world’s FIRST whale heritage area.

May there be many more.

4 thoughts on “Hervey Bay is the world’s first whale heritage area

  1. Piper McDermot

    How wonderful, Greta! Lovely photos, and lucky you to have them visit your back yard 🙂
    At our home back in Cape Town, there was a whale watching spot about 15 minutes walk from our house. On a small cliffside, so you could look right down onto them. Once, when hubby and I were in kayaks, a mom humpback and calf popped up about 30 metres from us. It was wonderful and awe inspiring to see, but I admit I was a little nervous 😁. Lovely post, thank you.

    Reply
    1. Greta Post author

      Oh, meeting whales while kayaking would be simply wonderful. I know they’re very big – but they’re awate of their bodies so I expect you were perfectly safe. I love them. I’d love to see them from a small boat.

      Reply

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