Fre­quent hump­back watch work­out makes for a healthy splash

Chinchilla News - - LIFE | ESCAPE -

FRASER Coast res­i­dent Pam Swain main­tains there are hid­den health ben­e­fits to fre­quent whale watch­ing in Her­vey Bay.

And she should know.

The vet­eran hump­back watcher has been on the whale watch boats so many times in the past 30 years, she says she lost count after the 150th cruise.

“Whales are re­ally at­tracted to move­ment so you put your right hand up, you put your left hand up, you charge around the boat and you do it all over again un­til the whales come for a look and so they stay once they ar­rive,” she said.

“Some peo­ple call the en­counter a mug­ging, but I call it a whale watch work­out.”

Pam and her hus­band Paul trav­elled from Der­byshire, in the UK, to Her­vey Bay in 1988 at the start of the hump­back whale watch­ing rev­o­lu­tion in Her­vey Bay and em­i­grated in 1991.

“The very first time I went, they used a spot­ter air­craft to go out and lo­cate the whales and they’d drop toi­let rolls back then so the ves­sels would know where to go.

“It was a source of great ex­cite­ment for those of us on board,” she said.

“Up close, the eye is beau­ti­ful – it’s tiny and in pro­por­tion, but it’s lovely when they roll it slightly so they can eye you up.

“I love their beau­ti­ful tails – all spot­ted and bar­na­cled. I love the folds in their belly and, when they pec slap, you can see the nod­ules on the sur­face – it’s al­most like they are wav­ing at you, you know.”

Pam was smit­ten from the first but hus­band Paul was in­stantly banned after a cou­ple of out­ings.

“Twice he came out with us, but he was banned be­cause he’s bad luck,” Pam says of her pref­er­ence for solo cruis­ing.

“I tend to keep to my­self on the boat, but the crew nor­mally points me out. A few days ago, some vis­i­tors called me the Whale Whis­perer – I don’t mind, it’s as good a nick­name as any.”

As seems to be the way in Her­vey Bay, guests not only form emo­tional at­tach­ments with the whales – Pam’s had the priv­i­lege of nam­ing a calf, Good­will, after the 2001 Good­will Games that were on at the time – but also with the boat crew, and often come back to chase the ul­ti­mate hump­back high.

Be­ing a dare­devil at heart, Pam says she quickly grad­u­ated from the big­ger boats to­wards Peter Lynch, skip­per of one of the small­est boats in the fleet, the Blue Dol­phin.

“I went out on a re­search boat for a week and that was in­cred­i­bly won­der­ful as you have the ocean to your­self after all the other ves­sels have gone,” Pam said.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to vis­it­fraser­coast.com/whales.

SLAP DOWN: Hump­back whales at play.

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