Swimming with humpback whales is now a reality in Hervey Bay for the 2015 season with local operators including our own Quick Cat II.
The calm waters on the lee side of the island provide protection from the elements, but swims are dependent upon conditions, visibility and the temperament of the whales on the day (guests book on the whale boats). Humpbacks are the most surface active of all the great whales, but for swims to occur, the captains need inquisitive humpbacks without much tail or fin slapping action.
And, if you are swimming, you never know who might be in the water beside you as some swimmers found out recently!
WHEN HARRY MET HARVEY*
Australian football legend Harry Kewell, faced his biggest opponents yet, when he took the plunge today, swimming with humpback whales off the Queensland's Fraser Coast.
More than a million people have experienced humpback whale watching at Queensland's Hervey Bay, but now visitors have the chance to come eye-to-eye with these majestic and curious mammals by swimming with them in what's been dubbed Whale Watching 2.0.
Visiting Hervey Bay, regarded by many as the whale watching capital of the world, as part of his Harry Kewell Academy Masterclasses, Kewell, has leapt at the chance to swim with these gentle giants. The legend of the football field was like every other passenger on board the Quick Cat II, left in awe of the massive creatures.
"This is one of the things I've been told is an amazing thing to do, to come out and see the whales," says Kewell.
"Obviously I've watched a lot of documentaries about them but to see them up close and personal is fantastic and we've been treated to a great show today. We've seen loads of them I've been in the water a few times to see them. It's been absolutely amazing."
After his experience on the water, there's little doubt he'll be back.
"This is something that is amazing," he says. "It's nature at its best and it's just a shame my kids aren't here to see it, but it gives me an opportunity to come back to Hervey Bay and take them out to actually see this again."
ABOUT THE SWIM
The whales dictate the experience. Visitors enter the water, and it's up to the inquisitive creatures to approach the swimmers. Kewell shared the experience with a number of international and local tourists, including. Elena from Germany and Dutch tourist Giel.
"I was a little nervous before but when I was in the water it was just amazing fantastic," says Elena.
"When you see them up close they are really impressive to see," says Giel from the Netherlands.
From July to October each year humpback whales stop to rest and play in the protected waters off Hervey Bay on their migration south to Antarctica with their newborn calves.
Source: Tourism and Events Queensland
Photos: Andrew Tallon
*Harvey the whale is Hervey Bay's mascot for the whale watching industry.