The first whales of the migration season were spotted from shore off Bargara this week, heralding the start of whale watching.
A photo from Bargara whale spotter Donna Muller showed two whales, possibly a female and her juvenile calf, swimming just off the shoreline from Bargara.
The encounter has given insight to what we can expect to see off our shorelines as whale watching season kicks off.
“I walk along the beachfront every morning from Nielsons down to The Basin, and I went later that day around 7am because it was a bit colder,” Donna said.
“I was out on the little point and at first I wasn’t sure if they were dolphins or whales, but you could actually see their waterspouts.”
While the whales were initially swimming out near the buoys, Donna was lucky enough to take photos when they swam past for the second time, much closer to shore.
“There was two of them and it was really interesting because they actually did a U-turn and came back and came in much closer,” Donna said.
“One of them lifted its fin up and out of the water, but I couldn’t tell you if they were mother and calf.
“I think they realised they had an audience though because they put on a little show, and they certainly got everybody’s attention.”
Keep an eye out for whales
Lady Musgrave Experience’s Shane Emms said he was preparing for another sensational year with whale watching tours starting on 5 July.
“Every year the numbers are increasing by 10 per cent and I’m in Byron Bay at the moment, and just off the coast you can see a highway of whales heading north,” he said.
“No doubt we're in for a long and busy season and we fully expect to continue our 100 percent success rate of seeing a whale every time we go out.”
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was always exciting to see the return of the whales and that Bargara has become a hotspot for seeing them from shore.
“We have started developing a shore-based tourism feature right here in Bargara because of these majestic creatures,” he said.
“Each year they are getting closer and closer to shore, which is lovely to see.”
Mayor Dempsey said while it was an exciting time, boaties needed to be aware of the strict guidelines and associated penalties with getting too close.
“I encourage boaties to watch out for whales and keep their distance so they 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 10,000km 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 skill.
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