On the last day of our Brisbane trip, we headed about an hour north of Fraser Island to do some whale watching in Hervey Bay. We got lucky with our timing, as late winter is apparently the best time to see whales in the area, so we had high hopes for our cruise. Still, we were hoping to see some whales from afar but highly doubted we would see any as close as they were pictured on the website for our cruise operator, Whalesong Cruises. We set out into the bay and before long, the captain announced that he had seen a pod and was going to go check it out. Apparently humpback whales are extremely intelligent and are either "in the mood" to interact with the boats, or completely ignore them and will go underwater for up to 20 minutes. And then you're pretty much out of luck! We hung around the first pod for about 15 minutes, and saw the whales surface a few times, but they pretty much looked like blobs in the distance. Exhibit A:
Since the whales weren't showing much interest, we set off to find a friendlier group. We cruised for another half hour or so before spotting another pod of four whales. It didn't take long for them to become interested in the boat and start circling.
Our first glimpse up close!
We ended up staying in the same place for about an hour while the four whales swam around us. It was a bit surreal to see them up so close. I took about 23480432 pictures, because it's not every day you get within a few feet of a whale.
I am mildly obsessed with their tails.
And then there were two! They would swim together for a few minutes, and then separate and one would leave the area for awhile before coming back again.
This guy did a little rolling over for us!
One thing I learned on this cruise: whales are really, really weird looking.
For some reason, it was almost cooler to see the whales under water than above. They would randomly emerge from deep down and seeing them come to the surface was amazing.
This picture shows just how close they got to the boat. And yes, people are waving at the whales. Apparently if they see a lot of movement on the boat they are more interested and will be more apt to "perform" a bit. I have no idea if this is true, or if the cruise employees just told us this for kicks. I'm leaning toward the latter. As you can imagine, the guy in the bucket hat was an overly enthusiastic waver. He really carried the team.
Another whale showed up!
We headed straight back to Brisbane on Monday night, and arrived around dinner time. Courtney and her husband Travis are saints and they let us stay with them, as we had an early flight on Tuesday. We were happy to check off a few of the destinations up near Brisbane on this trip and felt like we fit a lot into a pretty short amount of time.