Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Magical Mammals on Show in Sea

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Magical Mammals on Show in Sea

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Flanagan

HERVEY BAY: Spectacular.

Watching these majestic gargantuan mammals slap their pecs and tails in perfect harmony over and over again, spy hop, breach or clear two-thirds of their mammoth bodies out of the water, showing off gleaming white underbellies before crashing with a thunderous splash, leaving behind a calm area of water or footprint on the surface, is truly amazing.

An hour away from Kingfisher Bay Resort on world heritage-listed Fraser Island, Quick Cat II skipper Brian Perry spots pods several kilometres away and yells excitedly "there's a blow and another", referring to the adult baleen (toothless) humpback whale 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 40kmh with the distinctive cloud formed from vapour condensation.

A vanguard of wave-riding dolphins heralds their approach. Exuberant vocal whale watchers are rewarded as six curious cetaceans shimmy under the boat, often just an arm's length away. They're continually showing off by seemingly "lying" on the water and slapping one or both fins, submerging themselves nearly vertically slapping tail flukes and rising out of the water so their eyes are just clear of the surface, before slipping back into their aquatic playground.

Strict regulations ensure whale watch boats, pleasure craft and aircraft observe an exclusion zone of at least 100 metres from the whales and do not cause them to alter direction, speed, behaviour or split pods.

Much eye-balling reveals barnacle-covered heads and checking out tail flukes to see who's who confirms there's no sign of Hervey Bay's patron whale Nala, named after a character in the Lion King who has had eight calves in nine years, nor other faves Stumpy, Nemo, Caesar, Phantom and the famous white Migaloo, seen only weeks ago further north. Fingers crossed arrivals are imminent.

This is also a lesson in appreciating the sheer magnificence and enormity of each warm-blooded adult, which weighs up to 40 tonnes Co the equivalent of 600 people or 11 elephants. …

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