WHALE OF A TIME IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Queensland in winter time – you just can’t beat it!
Perfect conditions for a morning spent on the high seas whale watching.
The seas weren’t actually high at all, but instead calm and lulling with a gentle undulating swell.
With golden rays radiating down from the Heavens to warm our bones, we headed out to sea – to see what we could see . . .
Our destination was the ‘Whale Highway’, approximately 20 kilometers off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland; God’s country indeed. After traveling quite a long way down this lonely stretch,we finally spotted our first puff of spray in the distance and promptly made a bee-line for the great giants of the sea. We were not disappointed.
A pair of majestic humpback whales graced us with their presence and swam alongside our boat for over an hour, frequently surfacing, spurting, then re-submerging. Most of the time you could see their shape just below the water’s surface, the colour of their skin taking on a luminescent green glow which made them easier to spot and gave you fair warning of when and where to have the camera poised.
The whales may be slow, but I think digital cameras are slower when it comes to getting that instantaneous shot. The camera delay as it focussed on the whale meant that I mostly got great ‘splash shots’ as the mighty beasts submerged again! A boat full of other snap-happy whale enthusiasts, and a second rate vantage point meant I didn’t get the shots I would have liked. For a short while I just gave up on the photography in order to enjoy the moment, witnessing it through my own eyes rather than the lens of a camera.
These animals are so beautiful to watch. We had to maintain a distance of 100 meters from the whales, but the whales were able to approach the boat as closely as they felt comfortable, and we were treated with some stunning close up views of the pair as they slowly and gracefully rose and subsided with the ocean swell.
The occasional show of an amazing whale’s tail had everybody excited, but the best was yet to come. . .
[ My best breaching ‘splash shot’ of the day. Use your imagination … 🙂 ]
There I was, out on the open seas just a stone’s throw away as the spectacular humpback whale breached, thrusting it’s magnificent, gigantic form high into the air and performing a back-flip to show off it’s underbelly. Of course, I captured the ‘perfect splash’ on camera, the sound almost drowned out by the squeals of delight back on the boat. (And the shrill, excited barking of Midgy, the resident sailor dog)
David Attenborough – eat your heart out!
“But wait, there’s more!” they said, and soon put on an extraordinary display of fin slapping. Sometimes know as pec slapping, this behaviour creates a huge splash and booming sound underwater that resonates long distances and is likely a form of communication between other whales.
Often they would leave their fins up for quite some time before thrusting them down into the water again. Thanks for the photo opportunity guys!
This performance went on for some time and I was beginning to wonder whether somebody had planted trained show whales out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for our amusement and entertainment. 🙂
Seeing animals in their natural habitat is such a blessing and a privilege. These giants of the sea inspire awe and admiration, and it’s hard to comprehend the darker chapters of humanity which saw mass culling, often to the brink of extinction.
Mother Earth is indeed an awe-inspiring phenomenon, giving life to all manner of flora and fauna, from the tiniest insects to these enormous sea mammals. Each one unique, with it’s own important role to play in the planet’s biodiversity.
As Mother Nature’s most intelligent species (debatable…), we need to make the most intelligent choices about continued life on this planet for all living things.
Thankfully most people now feel deep awe, respect, and a sense of protectiveness towards the whales. It is my wish that this same reverence gets extended towards our entire planet, and all Her creatures, great and small!