One of the best things about travelling, apart from food of course, is being able to witness wildlife that you may never get to see in your home country. Growing up I always had a strong desire to see whales in the wild and detested the cruel corporations, such as Seaworld, that captured and used these beautiful animals for their own profit.
I vividly remember seeing orcas in the wild off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. It was both exhilarating and stunning and I always say that it is one of my fondest travel memories. Fast forward 17 years (holy shit, really?!) and I find myself in a similar situation in Brisbane, Australia. Now, Australia is renowned for having a range of exotic wildlife. I was so busy fretting about giant spiders, worrying about venomous snakes in the washing machine and trying my hardest to spot a kangaroo that it didn’t initially cross my mind that I could see whales here! This time I could see humpback whales migrating from Antarctica, passing right by Australia. I waited patiently (and excitedly) until the season started in June.
If you have ever seen whales in the wild, then you’ll know what I mean when I say it is a beautifully spiritual experience. They are intelligent, inquisitive and gentle. Seeing them right in front of you, especially close up, brings joy of such purity, like that you experienced as a child.
I was grateful that my trip had been cancelled 3 times previously due to weather, because the day I was out on the water was spectacular. The beautiful winter sun was just glittering off the surface of the water, with not a cloud in the sky. There was vibrant blue no matter which way you turned. It took around an hour or so of high speed sailing before we reached the perfect spot just off the coast of Moreton Island, which in itself is stunning to see. I don’t really know exactly what I was expecting, but what followed absolutely exceeded my expectations.
The first sighting was a little far off. I could see tails in the distance as the whales dove down under the water. I was so delighted to be witnessing this. Then the Captain’s voice came over the tannoy. We were surrounded by multiple pods of humpback whales. All of a sudden they were right next to the boat! They were spy hopping, rolling to show their undersides. Some even just hung in the water watching us. It was incredible!
There were mothers with their calves in tow swimming around the boat just relaxing and perhaps even using the boat as a shield against any potential danger. It was hard to keep up with which whales were where. The whole experience was so beautiful. When it was time for lunch, I literally wolfed it down and barely even tasted it. Now would be the best moment to take pictures, whilst everyone else was eating. Below are some of the shots I was able to get.
The whales hung around for over an hour. I was stunned. I just did not expect them to come so close and for so long! I literally could not stop smiling as I remembered the feeling I had in Canada and realised that this was exactly what I had been wanting ever since. I felt extremely lucky and humbled to have witnessed this.
All through my teens into adulthood, whales have been a source of fascination to me and whale conservation is something I’ve always tried to be a part of in some small way, whether it be WDC (Whale & Dolphin Conservation) donations, sharing posts exposing the barbarity of keeping whales captive or just watching documentaries to educate myself. Being able to see these wonderful creatures free and happy fills my heart. This certainly won’t be my last trip to see them.
There are so many places around the world where you can witness whales in the wild. If you are lucky enough to be in one of those places, I definitely recommend the experience. Even if you don’t know much about whales or have never had a keen interest in them previously, seeing them in the wild will highlight to you how vital it is that these animals are a part of our ecosystem.
I booked my trip with Brisbane Whale Watching, who I highly recommend. You can find out more about them here.
If you’d like to know more about how to support the conservation of whales and dolphins, visit WDC for information.