It’s hard to imag­ine a whale sneak­ing up on you, but clearly they can


IT MAY seem im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve, but two whales snuck up be­hind me. I can’t ex­plain how it hap­pened, but they did. And quickly.

One minute I was flail­ing about in cold, 19-de­gree wa­ter in a des­per­ate at­tempt to catch my breath and get a glimpse of two mas­sive hump­back whales that had been swim­ming back and forth un­der Her­vey Bay Whale Watch’s Quick Cat II, and the next minute I heard yells of “turn around, be­hind you”.

When I turned around I was eye­ball to eye­ball with a whale. Then a sec­ond gi­ant head popped up a few me­tres away.

How on earth can some­thing 15 me­tres long and weigh­ing 30,000 tonnes sneak up on you?

What amazed me was the whales’ cu­rios­ity and how gen­tle they were in the wa­ter around five swim­mers teth­ered to a whale watch­ing boat off the coast of Fraser Is­land.

No tail slaps, no breaches, no pec slaps … and no sound. There they hung, ver­ti­cally, with just their heads out of the wa­ter star­ing at us.

Wet skin, pock-marked with bar­na­cles, shin­ing in the early morn­ing sun.

Here were two mas­sive and beau­ti­ful crea­tures that had come to say hi. That’s what it felt like. I could see the cu­rios­ity in their eyes. Or were they laugh­ing at these crazy lit­tle land crea­tures?

The whole ex­pe­ri­ence prob­a­bly only lasted a few min­utes (I had no sense of time pass­ing), but the mem­o­ries will last a life­time.

How many peo­ple can say they’ve en­coun­tered a whale in its own en­vi­ron­ment, on its terms, and had such an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

But this is the next gen­er­a­tion of whale watch­ing, dubbed “the ul­ti­mate whale en­counter”.

The writer was a guest of Fraser Coast Tourism.

A whale swim is the next gen­er­a­tion of whale-watch­ing ex­cite­ment in Her­vey Bay. PHOTO: MICHELE STERNBERG

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