Whale watching in Moreton Bay is an experience to cherish, and it's also been ket to the majestic marine mammals' might resurgence and continuing conservation.
Captain Kerry Lopez of Brisbane Whale Watching has seen it all in the 23 years she has been leading tours out to the bay, but says last season was brilliant.
“Every year just keeps getting better and better, because of the numbers, and their behaviour is becoming more social,” Kerry explains.
The variety of whale species seen is also increasing, with a minke whale, southern right whale and a white whale spotted last year.
This season, Kerry and her crew expect about 25,000 humpback whales to pass through Moreton Bay this season, on their migration to and from Antarctica. It's a far cry from the east coast population, estimated at just 500 when whaling ceased in 1962.
Kerry says their comeback has been inspiring and in part due to a greater appreciation for the resilient creatures, fostered by seeing them play, bond and mother in Moreton Bay.
“We’re able to educate the public. When people see the whales, that’s enough for them to say let’s protect them and ensure whaling is stopped (elsewhere),” she says.
Children who’ve watched the whales, learn how important it is to keep our oceans clean and are more likely to do their bit to help.
“It’s educational for people without being too scientific,” Kerry explains.
And there are plenty of whales to see, with Kerry and her crew able to guarantee sightings for their passengers.
“There was a lot of courtship last year, bulls chasing the females. When that’s happening, the calves move off and around the boat more,” Kerry says.
“I think the whales in general are becoming a lot more social, they’re feeling safer.”
There’s a new generation of whales coming to the bay now, who have no memory of the threats faced by previous generations.
“If you operate safely around them and don’t stress them out, they know. They show signs of extraordinary intelligence. If they feel stress, they will dive deep and swim so fast you wouldn’t be able to observe them,” Kerry says.
The whales have learned to recognise the harmonics of the Brisbane Whale Watching vessel, Eye Spy, and know it’s safe.
“We underestimate these majestic animals and we shouldn’t as human beings. I think their intelligence outweighs ours. They have come back from being an endangered species, not many species can do that,” Kerry says.
“When I’m with the whales, I’m at my best. I’m driving a beautiful boat with the whales … what more could you want.”
Whale watching season is from June 1 to November. Brisbane Whale Watching runs tours daily from the Redcliffe Jetty, with three levels of seating — standard, premium and VIP.