If you are an adventurous animal-lover, take a holiday when it is wintertime in Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, and experience whale watching. Giant humpback whales put on an incredible show doing just what they do naturally. Taking one of the available boats will bring you close to these fantastic creatures.
Something you can expect to experience is a whale breach. This happens when the humpback, all 45 tons of it, propels itself straight out of the water by flicking its tail. Not many people realise that whales do not dive very deep before breaching, so they are pretty close to the surface.
Humpbacks swim beneath the surface, then bend their heads back and up and leap out of the water practically upright. They twist their bodies 180 degrees and then crash back down on their backs while tons of water splashes in every direction. This whale breach can be seen from 5-6 km or more. The whales are not being playful but have a way to see all around them and to see if they might or might not be in danger. Calves are carefully taught by adults how to breach correctly.
Humpback whales are among the most playful and acrobatic of all large whales. They do exciting things like lying on the side and “pec slapping” when they raise their large pectoral fins right up out of the water and then slap it hard against the surface. In addition, some humpbacks enjoy coming up against a vessel and doing a slap to wet everyone standing on the bow.
Another form of communication is the “tail slap”, which can mean a warning from a whale not to get too close to their territory. Other times they enjoy bobbing along and watching the vessels going by and at times in ways interacting with the people onboard watching them.
This is a great feeling to interact in specific ways with the fifth largest animal in the world.
What you are looking for is most likely the bow that signals a humpback whale is nearby. The whale will let out a massive amount of dry air at 400 km per hour, which looks like a puff of crystals looking into the sun. Then you might be able to see a black dorsal fine. It is not always easy to spot a whale, no matter how large they are the very first time. You want to prepare yourself for the eventuality that the whale might come shooting out of the water.
Hervey Bay is the best place to get used to whale watching but remember the whales can be swimming in any direction alongside or toward the vessel you are on, and then suddenly it’s “pec alp”, and you get a refreshing spray of cool water on you. The crews are always great at explaining their behaviour patterns and can point out sure signs that soon you will be up close with a humpback whale.
When is the whale watching season? Make sure that you book during the times when the whales are actively in Hervey Bay.
At times humpback whales don’t arrive in Hervey Bay individually bit in pods travelling together with one as the leader. Each day is a different kind of adventure but as exciting as when it all happens for the first time. If you have a chance to go whale watching, don’t pass it up and enjoy meeting the humpbacks.