WHALE OF A TIME
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