The Southern Humpback whales have returned to the waters of the Fraser Coast and this year, they are ready to party! After greeting visitors with plenty of breaches and tail slaps, these curious and intelligent creatures were keen to do some “people watching” getting right up close with the Quick Cat Cruise boats.
|Baby whale calf playing the protected walkers of the Fraser Coast|
So why are some pods of whales more “active” than others? Just like us humans, it often comes down to what stage the whales are at in life. Whales generally mate every second year- and carry a calf for 11 months. Mother whales will mate in the warm waters of Queensland towards the end of whale season, and return the next year a give birth to their calf.
A whale calf typically weighs 1.5 tonnes and are just over 4 metres in length when they are born. Newborn calves will stay with their mother to feed and learn the ropes for roughly one year before venturing off to join a juvenile pod for a migration at around two to three years old. Traditionally a full adult whale will escort a mother whale and her calf back down along the Australian cost to Antarctica.
By the time whales join a pod of juveniles they are roughly six to seven metres in length and full of energy and curiosity (imagine whales on schoolies). They are usually some of the first pods in the migration and, at times, can get lost along the way.
|Juvenile whales play in the waters off Fraser Island|
A pod of whales is usually two or three, and they can often meet up in the waters off Fraser Island where five or six whales may be in close proximity to each other. In some cases, such as Migaloo the white whale, a pod can actually just be one whale. But generally they travel in pods of two or three.
Last, but definitely not least, are the big bulls – the full grown adult male whales which can grow up to 14.5 metres in length and weigh up to 36,000 kilograms. These whales generally follow along the tail of the migration.
Whales love to frolic and play in the calm waters of Hervey Bay, protected from the strong winds and ocean currents by Fraser Island with approximately 20,000 humpback whales migrating along the Australian coast each year.
Humans aren’t the only friends whales make along the way with dolphins and dugong often spotted amongst whale pods in and around Hervey Bay.
If you haven’t seen these incredible creatures close up, check-out these fantastic packages that include whale watch cruises and accommodation on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.