Brisbane Whale Watching Captain Kerry Lopez has seen many changes since she launched her business on the waters of Moreton Bay 25 years ago.
Chief among them is a surge in the whale population making the migration north to warmer breeding waters – as well as an increase in the time they spend feeding, birthing and bonding in the bay.
“The most powerful thing I have been able to watch is the whales and the population coming back to full recovery,” Kerry says.
“When I first started, we would take an hour and a half to find the whales – now it takes 20 minutes.
“The water is warmer, so they don’t need to travel as far north.”
Kerry is looking forward to welcoming passengers aboard Eye Spy – the state-of-the-art purpose-built catamaran – as she prepares to celebrate Brisbane Whale Watching’s 25th birthday and share the magic of observing the giants of the sea up close.
“Sometimes I ask myself `how did I get this lucky?’,” Kerry says.
“You never get sick of it; you never get used to it.
“It’s gone so quickly, I think because it’s 25 years of excitement and being able to share the whales with children, the elderly and locals.
“We see mums giving birth and using the bay to feed their babies - some days there’s pods everywhere.”
Commercial whaling on humpback whales was banned in Australia in 1963, and Kerry says numbers have increased in the decades since.
This year, she expects about 30,000 whales to pass through the waters of Moreton Bay.
“It’s not just whales that we see, it’s turtles, dolphins, dugongs, hammerhead sharks.
“It’s our backyard – we are so fortunate to have this marine park in our backyard.
“Humpbacks are very surface active, they’re just loving clowns, they love the human interaction.”
Kerry says she and her crew never tire of spotting familiar whales each year and are privileged to witness intimate moments with the mystical creatures.
“Watching one being born – we were able to film that on our drone a couple of years ago.
“You can see them on the TV or in pictures, but when one of the largest living creatures on earth is right beside you, that’s very powerful.”
The Eye Spy team is grateful for the support of locals, and Kerry says it was that support that saw them through the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“We have people who come back three and four times in a season and people that come back every year.
“We’re grateful for the support we’ve had through hard times.
“Brisbane Holiday dollars has been such a great campaign to help us this year – (bookings) end on June 4, so we’re getting a lot of bookings now.”
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