Having a whale of a time!
Whales en masse off Mooloolaba, the social networking hub for Humpbacks, enthuses Helen Flanagan, is a not-to-be-missed annual spectacular!
Watching majestic mammals slap their pecs and tails in perfect harmony over and over again, spy hop, breach or clear two-thirds of their gargantuan bodies out of the water, showing off gleaming white underbellies before crashing with a thunderous splash, is truly breathtaking. Leaving behind a calm circle of water or footprint on the surface emits a big sigh.
This year more than 35,000 whales are expected to migrate up the east coast from the rich feeding grounds of Antarctica and head along the ‘hump highway’ to Mooloolaba, where they put on a show for the passengers of Sunreef’s Whale One.
Humpback Whales migrate up to 6,000km each year to the warm breeding waters from Hervey Bay and north to the Whitsundays. Different whales tend to go back to the same breeding waters.
Onboard the glistening white 20m catamaran Whale One, fellow whale watchers were all agog about an hour out from shore, when skipper Dan announced a sighting. It was a vanguard of wave-riding dolphins however, a little later came “there’s a blow… and another”, referring to the adult baleen (toothless) Humpback Whales with two lungs the size of a small car, that can be emptied and refilled in less than two seconds. Once near the surface, they exhale forcefully through two blowholes on top of their heads at 40kph with the distinctive cloud formed from vapour condensation.
Guests stared and gasped in wonderment when various pods of cetaceans came together to strut their stuff by seemingly ‘lying’ on the water and slapping one or both fins, submerging themselves nearly vertically slapping tail flukes.
The sheer magnificence and enormity of each warm-blooded adult with its barnacle-covered head is astounding. Weighing up to 40 tonnes, the equivalent of 600 people or 11 elephants. The average length is 15 metres and the tail, with its unique pattern like a human fingerprint, is about 5 metres across. A new-born calf is around 4.5 metres long, weighs about 1.5 tonnes and suckles about 600 litres of pink milk each day.
If swimming with, and eye-balling Humpback Whales is on your list of aqueous adventures, Sunreef’s Dan Hart says encounters this season have been amazing with an adult swimming with guests and staying near the boat for about two hours on a recent encounter.
“It kept circling around, coming back again and again to get a closer look, and just 10cm away,” he said.
Sunreef guide, Jonny Fell said the encounter was the best he had ever experienced, and it started even before they got into the water.
“On the boat, the whale came over, moved off, and when we got into the water, she was only about 150m away, before heading to us.
“Then the adventure truly began, swimming in and around and underneath us, and looking straight at us, so close you could see her blink. Incredible.”
Indeed! Don’t miss your chance to encounter these incredible beasts and make a day of it at The Wharf Mooloolaba for a whale of a time!
Win with the Whales!
Enjoy an exciting day out at Mooloolaba with an incredible whale watching experience aboard Whale One and the crew from Sunreef Mooloolaba followed by lunch at The Dock Mooloolaba.
Cruise along the beautiful coastline from Mooloolaba to witness the magnificent humpback whales on their winter migration. Feel the anticipation for the first sighting of a blow or splash from the gentle giants as they curiously swim up to Whale One.
Back at The Wharf Mooloolaba, wander through the precinct and enjoy a great lunch, right on the water at The Dock Mooloolaba, the home of sensational smoked meats, chargrilled fare, local seafood and of course a few refreshments.
Pack your sense of adventure with Sunreef
Sunreef Mooloolaba, the largest dive centre in South East Queensland, offers Australia’s first Swim with Humpback Whales experience from July to October each year and Whale Watching from June to early November; as well as local reef dives, snorkelling trips and diving on the ex-HMAS Brisbane wreck, the beautiful Flinders Reef, plus diving and snorkelling Mudjimba Island. www.sunreef.com.au