Captain Kerry’s whale of a time at sea

Published 3:00pm 29 March 2023

Captain Kerry’s whale of a time at sea
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

From the cockpit of her luxury catamaran Eye Spy, Captain Kerry Lopez from Brisbane Whale Watching has had a front row seat to witness some of the most amazing whale behaviour ever seen in the wild.

Having operated from Redcliffe for the past 26 years, Captain Kerry believes there is no better place in the world than the Moreton Bay Marine Park to see these gentle giants playing and frolicking in their natural habitat.

“The marine park is just pristine - we are very lucky to have this beautiful asset right here on our door step in Moreton Bay,” Captain Kerry says.

“When I first started the whale watching tours, we would go out for an hour and a half and find maybe one or two whales but now, it’s not uncommon for us to see up to 30 whales in one day, which of course is a real treat for everyone on board.

“The whales are so close to us that I can leave the Redcliffe Jetty and within 20 minutes we have spotted our first pod.

“I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where you get to see these beautiful creatures right under the cape.”

Of all the great whales, the humpback is the most active on the surface.

Common whale behaviour includes breaching (when most or all of the whale's body leaves the water), as well as flippering, fluking, tail slapping, spouting and spyhopping (holding itself vertically in the water and kicking with its tail fluke in order to hold its head above the water to get a closer look).

No matter how they behave, Captain Kerry is in awe every time she sees the whales.

“One of the most incredible things I have ever seen was a baby being born right here in the bay,” Captain Kerry explains.

“Because the water temperatures are getting a little warmer, the whales are not having to travel as far north to give birth, so they are using the bay as a nursing ground.

“In September, there were nine new born calves swimming in the bay with their mothers, who were feeding them to make them stronger for that long journey back down to Antarctica.

“Also, last year in August, there was also another whale that did something so extraordinary that I have never seen anything like it before, and I probably never will again.

“A female came up under the boat and rolled underneath before doing a full body breach and then spyhopping right next to the wing control.

“What was so incredible about this was she opened her mouth and kept it open.

“Her tongue was double the size of me, and I could have laid in the bucket of her mouth.

“We could see her baleen up close (the filter-feeding system inside their mouths), which was just like grizzly bear fur.

“She didn’t do this once, but in fact three times, which is unheard of.

“I of course hope to see something like that again, but I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which happened right here in Moreton Bay.”

Captain Kerry believes the whales are just as curious of us as we are of them.

“I truly believe the whales know my voice and they know my boat, so they feel safe enough to come and play around with us,” Captain Kerry says.

“They love the attention we are giving them.

“I once watched a young juvenile try and balance a jelly fish on its head, which was funny to watch because the jelly fish kept sliding off and the whale kept swimming underneath and trying to put it on its head again.

“They really are like the clowns of the ocean, and always give me a little giggle.”

Captain Kerry’s whale of a time at sea

Experience the magic of whale watching 

Tickets are now available for the 2023 whale watching season with Captain Kerry, which will officially begin on June 10 and run through until November.

“With our whale watching tours, the excitement starts on the front line from the moment you book your tickets,” Captain Kerry explains.

“We have an office located on Redcliffe Pde where Dessray and the other girls in the office make the whole experience easy for you.

“We care about giving you the best day out with lots of memorable memories.”

Kerry says she is excited to welcome guests from all over Australia and around the world onto her luxury catamaran Eye Spy.

“It’s really nice to share the whales with everyone who comes on board,” Captain Kerry explains.

“I have people that come from the United Kingdom who book consecutive days with us because the love the tour so much.”

Eye Spy is a three-level catamaran featuring six viewing decks and a large bow for spacious unobstructed viewing – plenty of room to obtain the ultimate vantage point.

Built in Brisbane, Eye Spy features the latest in environmentally friendly technology, including whale-friendly, low-noise propellers to minimise underwater noise, a low-wash characteristic hull design and the latest MTU 2000 V16 series diesel engines.

The lower and upper decks feature full 360 views and access, and the spacious first-class interiors feature large floor-to-ceiling tinted windows for a superior level of luxury and comfort.

There is also a licensed bar offering a range of local and imported beer and wine, six LCD television screens and five bathrooms.

Eye Spy is wheelchair-friendly, with access to the lower deck viewing platforms, as well as a disabled bathroom located nearby.

Passengers will also get to hear the whales communicating with each other via the boat’s underwater microphone, plus get a different perspective of the whales and their behaviour with the vessel’s underwater GOPRO.

For a magical day out with Captain Kerry, visit the Brisbane Whale watching office at 133-137 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe, or visit their website

Captain Kerry’s whale of a time at sea
Above: A picture of the female whale who approached the boat in August 2022 and opened her mouth for everyone to see.

Interesting facts about the humpback whale

  • Whales have little to no sense of smell or taste
  • They have extremely sensitive skin that is easily sunburned
  • Whales have remarkable eyes with strong muscles that can change the shape of the lens so they can see in the air or underwater
  • Their eye is the size of a grapefruit
  • They have incredible hearing that can range over many kilometres for navigation, communication and finding food
  • Their calls or songs can travel hundreds of kilometres
  • Their pectoral fins are ten times longer than your arm
  • Flukes often feature black and white markings on the underside which can be used to identify individual whales
  • They have an average weight of 45 tonnes, which is about 1000 children put together
  • The average length of a humpback whale is 15-17 metres, which is roughly 10 adults lying head to foot
  • Calves are fed more than 400 litres of rich milk daily, which is the consistency of condensed cream
  • An expelled breath or ‘blow’ can reach a speed of between 300-500km/h as it exits through the blowhole

Source: Brisbane Whale Watching

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