Bargara residents and visitors have recently been treated to some close-up animal encounters with humpback whales spotted off the coast almost every day last week.
Local resident Claire Dobbins was walking her dog on Saturday morning when she spotted two whales from The Basin.
“I think there was a mother and her calf,” she said.
“There were quite a few people watching, everyone was very excited. I have never seen a whale off the beach before.”
Kevin Hill (aka Jimmy Scaboo) was lucky enough to spot the humpbacks multiple times and managed to capture the playful mammals on video.
“It's been magical, I have been watching them feeding for a few days now,” he said.
“This frisky little fellow put on a terrific display just off the turtle playground,” he said.
“He then went off towards Christsen Park with his mum for a feed. Coming as close as 150 metres, they drifted along watched by many along the coastal path.
“The story goes that he was born on Thursday just off Bargara, I've spotted them slowly drifting and feeding for three days now.”
Brett Lakey, owner of Lady Musgrave Experience, said he opened his whale season tours two weeks ago and the ocean animals had been coming and going in droves.
“The start of the season has been absolutely amazing,” he said.
“The whales have been literally coming up to the boat and putting on a great show.”
Mr Lakey said whale numbers were increasing by about 11 per cent each season, with 37,000 humpbacks expected to migrate through Bundaberg waters this year.
“Numbers are definitely growing and we happen to be in the best part of the world to see it all happen,” he said.
“Now that we have a second boat, we provide whale watching tours up to three times a week, departing from the Bundaberg Port Marina from 10am to 2pm.”
To find out more about Lady Musgrave Experience whale watching tours click here.
Keep an eye out for whales
Bundaberg Regional Council tourism portfolio spokesman Cr Greg Barnes said with whale numbers increasing each year, Bargara was the perfect place to spot a humpback family or two.
“We have started developing a shore-based tourism feature right here in Bargara because of these majestic creatures,” he said.
“They are obviously very confident with the area and are getting closer and closer to shore each year.”
Cr Barnes said while it was an exciting time, boaties needed to be aware of whales and research the strict guidelines and associated penalties with getting too close.
“I encourage boaties to watch out for whales and keep their distance so they will keep returning,” he said.
“At this time of year, mothers are with their calves, feeding them and teaching them how to breach and slap their tails and fins on the surface.
“We need to make sure these whales are getting the space they need on their epic migration journey.”
Humpback whale migration
Humpback whales migrate to and from Antarctica from June to October each year.
The epic journey of up to 10,000 kilometres is led by groups of young males before the adult breeding animals arrive, including the pregnant cows and cow-calf pairs.
The safe warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef are the ideal calving waters for humpback whales.
The tropical waters are ideal for the young calves with little body fat as they bond with their mothers and learn essential survival skills.