Humpback whales have started making their way to Moreton Bay and when the whale watching season finally begins on July 4, it’s tipped they’ll be there in bigger numbers than usual.
Brisbane Whale Watching’s Captain Kerry Lopez says a drop in boat traffic as a result of COVID-19 restrictions will likely entice more whales into Moreton Bay.
“It will be interesting to see what they do, with the lack of boat traffic out there. A lot of shipping has quietened down with cruise ships not out there. We’ll be documenting their behaviour,” Kerry says.
She’s expecting a 10-12% increase and can’t wait to share the experience with guests, once stage three of the Government’s easing of restrictions is adopted.
The number of passengers aboard Brisbane Whale Watching’s vessel Eye Spy will be limited to 100.
“The experience for passengers and guests will be better because there won’t be as many people onboard. They’ll feel like they have the big boat to themselves,” Kerry says.
The team is working with experts to develop and implement their COVID-19 safety plan and extra crew members will be onboard to manage social distancing requirements. Brisbane Whale Watching has the green light to continue to offer guests a Gourmet Picnic Lunchbox while aboard.
But with such a big boat, that has floor to ceiling windows, Kerry’s not anticipating any problems.
The vessel offers surround viewing, so it’s not necessary for passengers to rush from one area of the boat to another to see the whales. Kerry says the whales generally swim underneath and out the other side, so there’s a chance for guests to see them no matter where they are on the vessel.
“They don’t need to be running from side to side and we manage that anyway,” she explains.
Kerry says Brisbane Whale Watching didn’t rely on the Chinese tourist market and most of their guests came from the greater metropolitan area and interstate.
“We’re banking on the local market to want to have a day with us. Queenslanders will stay in their own backyards. We’re hoping they’ll support our tours and come out and enjoy themselves,” she says.
“We’re (also) hoping the borders will be open and we can get back to business as usual and do what we do best – seeing the whales.”
Like the rest of us, Kerry’s waiting patiently to get out there. She’s not been out on the water in Eye Spy, but did take a ride in the aeroplane Sky Spy to see the bay from above.
“We saw a couple of whales. That was two weeks ago and still the beginning of the season,” she says.
“I can’t wait. It’s my happy place out there and seeing the guests again and our return clientele.”
It will not only be good for Kerry’s business and her team of about 20 when tours begin, but also the local businesses she supports and sources supplies from every day.
“It’s good for the economy of the region,” she says.
“I’m looking out there now and the bay is pristine – there’s turtles and dolphins too. We’re very fortunate with the marine park, it’s a gem, and being able to go out there and show it to our guests.
“Nothing’s going to stop the whales and the experience for guests is still going to be a world-class experience.”
Daily cruises will run from July 4 to November. Bookings are essential as numbers will be limited.