Whit­sun­days whale of a time

Whitsunday Times - - ADVERTISING FEATURE WHALE WATCHING WHITSUNDAYS -

WHALE watch­ing in the Whit­sun­days is the type of awe-in­spir­ing en­counter that must be ex­pe­ri­enced to be be­lieved, mem­o­ries of which will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Now, for the first time in the Whit­sun­days, whale watch­ers can take a unique tour on Thun­der­bird1, a ves­sel that runs on used cook­ing oil for fuel in­stead of the tra­di­tional petroleum-based diesel or petrol, re­sult­ing in net zero CO2 emis­sions which are the cause of cli­mate change, global warm­ing, dam­age to the reef, co­ral bleach­ing and the en­vi­ron­ment in gen­eral.

For ev­ery one litre of petrol or diesel burned it pro­duces ap­prox­i­mately 2.5 kilo­grams of CO2. Thun­der­bird1 pro­duces none!

The Ger­man man­u­fac­tured, FRB or fast res­cue boat was for­mally the open ocean res­cue ves­sel aboard the Spirit of Tas­ma­nia 1, but now al­lows lo­cals and tourists to get up close and per­sonal with the whales in the Whit­sun­day is­lands.

The ex­pe­ri­ence is made even more amaz­ing us­ing a cus­tom-made hy­drophone, an un­der­wa­ter mi­cro­phone and wire­less head­phones, which al­lows pas­sen­gers to hear the male whale song and com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween mother whales and their calves in crys­tal clear sound.

Glen Dor­eian (Doc), is the owner and in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Whale Watch­ing Whit­sun­days and Thun­der­bird1, said that Thun­der­bird1 pro­vided “the ul­ti­mate in­ter­ac­tive car­bon neu­tral tour”, with a true con­nec­tion be­tween guest and mam­mal, while still car­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment.

“You’re watch­ing the bulls’ fin and fluke slap­ping, dis­plays of breach­ing at­tract­ing the fe­males while you’re also lis­ten­ing to them live singing to at­tract them for mat­ing,” Glen explained.

“It’s just amaz­ing. It gives you goose bumps and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Some of our guests even shed tears it’s such an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You’re re­ally up close and per­sonal with the whales. We strictly stick to the rules set out by GBRMPA for whale watch­ing, but whales are in­quis­i­tive, es­pe­cially the calves and some­times they come right up to the boat to do some ‘hu­man watch­ing’.”

Pas­sen­gers can even be on the fore­front of sci­ence and the study of Hump­back Whales sim­ply by tak­ing a tour. Whale Watch­ing Whit­sun­days has been help­ing GRUMPA and South­ern Cross Univer­sity study hump­backs by sub­mit­ting sight­ings, data and pho­to­graphs of whale sight­ings. “We’ve been see­ing some un­doc­u­mented whale be­hav­iour as part of this study,” Glen said.

“It was thought they didn’t feed from the time they left the Antarc­tic to when they went back, but we have seen this be­hav­iour on our tours”

To top it off, a 360-de­gree 4K camera on board cap­tures all the won­der and ac­tion of the tour in high def­i­ni­tion which is edited into high­lights which are posted on the Whale Watch­ing Whit­sun­days web

page and Face­book page along with whale song record­ings and photos.

Pas­sen­gers are also en­cour­aged to fill in an ob­ser­va­tion form and sub­mit their photos to South­ern Cross Univer­sity on­line and are able to iden­tify and track a whale sim­ply by the mark­ings on its fluke or tail by us­ing their soft­ware.

Glen said there was no bet­ter time to get out on the wa­ter and ex­pe­ri­ence the won­der of the Whit­sun­day whales.

Whale watch­ing tours on Thun­der­bird1 can be booked on the Whale Watch­ing Whit­sun­days web­site.

PHOTO: PETER CARRUTHERS

WHALE WATCH: Glen Pre­ston and Donna For­nasiero of Thun­der­bird1 pre­pare to spot some Whit­sun­day Whales this week.

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