Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LOOK out Her­vey Bay, whale watch­ing tours are com­ing to Air­lie Beach.

From June to Septem­ber for the first time yet, lo­cals and vis­i­tors to the re­gion will be able to hop on a ded­i­cated whale watch­ing boat from Port of Air­lie to the Whit­sun­day is­lands and coast.

Apart from be­ing a Whit­sun­day first, the other point of dif­fer­ence is the size of the boats.

A Mar­itimo 60 with a ca­pac­ity for just 12 guests is the new op­tion for full-day tours, with a price of $325 per per­son in­cor­po­rat­ing a bar­be­cue lunch and stop at an iconic lo­ca­tion such as Lang­ford Is­land or White­haven Beach.

For those with less time on their hands, there are morn­ing and af­ter­noon tours on a fast Kevla Cat with a ca­pac­ity for just eight guests at $150 each.

Th­ese bou­tique whale watch­ing tours are the brain­child of Ste­wart and Carolyn Lewis from Ocean Dy­nam­ics.

Ms Lewis, who said the idea for the ven­ture came to her while watch­ing the whales amid last year’s Air­lie Beach Race Week fleet, be­lieves run­ning smaller ves­sels will cre­ate a more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence that guests will never for­get.

She said ev­ery year dur­ing the win­ter months there was an abun­dance of whales, dol­phins and marine life “and last year I just thought wow, this is just a re­ally unique op­por­tu­nity to give vis­i­tors to Air­lie Beach”.

Skip­per Matt Fet­zer, who has helmed boats in the Whit­sun­days for the past 13 years, said that to be in­volved in an in­au­gu­ral ven­ture like this was just “re­ally ex­cit­ing”.

Like­wise, Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil’s Deputy Mayor An­drew Will­cox, who at­tended last Fri­day’s launch, said he too thought it was a “fan­tas­tic” ven­ture.

“I think it’s ex­cit­ing and I can’t be­lieve we haven’t had one here be­fore, es­pe­cially with the amount of whales that come through here in the sea­son,” he said.

“And I think what’s re­ally good about this is it’s a main­land-based ac­tiv­ity that peo­ple can ac­cess from Air­lie Beach. Plus in this size ves­sel you can take just your fam­ily and friends – it’s up-close and per­sonal.”

Tours will start from June 20, or be­fore if that’s when the first whales ar­rive.

Ms Lewis said she hoped her team would be the first to spot a 2015 sea­son whale.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.oce­an­dy­nam­ics.com.au.

WHALE OF A TIME: Tori Curtis of WMDL and deputy mayor An­drew Will­cox (far left and right), cel­e­brate with the Ocean Dy­nam­ics team.

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