Ever wondered why Hervey Bay is touted as the best location for whale watching in Australia? With the season fast approaching, and having accommodated thousands of whale watchers over the years, Mantra Hervey Bay andBreakFree Great Sandy Straits have the following fast facts, top tips and great accommodation packages for an unforgettable whale watching experience.
1. It’s all about timing
During the months of August, September and October there is a 100% guarantee of a whale sighting in Hervey Bay! Why is that? After giving birth in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland the whales stop and rest in the calm surroundings of Hervey Bay between August and October with their young calves, rejuvenating themselves for the long journey south to their home in the Antarctic. There is no difference between the morning or afternoon whale watching cruises as there is no rhyme or reason to the whales antics and activity at any particular time. They basically do what they want when they want!
2. It’s a family affair
Pods of mothers and calves are often escorted by an adult male during their time in Hervey Bay offering a great chance to see all the generations at play. Whales that find their way to Hervey Bay can include minkes, brydes, false killer and killer whales, melonhead whales, sperm whales and of course the mighty humpbacks, which can grow to over between 15 and 25 metres in length. Some species are spotted more than others – the false killer and melonhead whales, for example, are only seen once every few years. If you’re lucky, Migaloo the White Whale might make an appearance – he is elusive, however, and even has a website dedicated to logging sightings of him – www.migaloo.com.au
3. Why do they leave home?
The cold waters of the Antarctic, where the whales call home, are great for the whale’s food source, but too harsh for newborn calves which have no protective blubber layer. So humpbacks mate and give birth in warmer waters in the tropical north. Their rest time in Hervey Bay on the way back home could even be considered a first family holiday!
4. Mother of the Year
How’s this for dedication? Females carry their young for 11 to 12 months, and at birth, calves are about 4-5 metres long and weigh more than one tonne! A mother feeds her calf milk with an unusually high fat content (35% compared with 2% for human milk) with hundreds of litres consumed daily. Calves are nursed until they are one year old and about 8 metres long.
5. Muggings are a good thing!
‘Muggings’ is the term used when whales swim close to the boat to get a better look at who’s on deck. That’s right, they are just as inquisitive as we are – if not more! So if you hear about tourists being mugged by whales, it’s a good thing and a great time to be on the water.
6. Don’t just watch – swim!
Been whale watching before and ready for a new adventure? A number of operators are now offering ‘swim with the whales’ experiences for an up close and personal view of these majestic beasts of the sea. Boats have to keep a distance of 100m from the whales, but can now to drop swimmers in to the water to carefully approach and swim with the whales.