Get set for a whale of a season

Published 8:00am 1 June 2024

Get set for a whale of a season
Words by Jodie Powell

Brisbane Whale Watching’s captain Kerry Lopez is so passionate about the majestic creatures that she travelled to Hawaii during Australia’s off-season to see them.

“They’re just absolutely mesmerizing,” she says.

“Even after 28 years I never get tired of it. They just make me giggle – they’re the clowns of the ocean, they play with you so much. I think they know my voice.”

Kerry’s looking forward to the start of the 2024 whale season locally, which begins officially on June 8, with whale watching tours on Eye-Spy seven days a week until the beginning of November.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing the whales again and getting out and giving the experience to our guests – it’s just such a fun thing to do.

More time with whales

Get set for a whale of a season

“The whales are so special and seeing the look on our guests’ faces when they’ve never seen a whale before is very special too.

“It’s going to be an exciting season, with more than 40,000 whales. The humpback super-highway will be very busy,” Kerry laughs.

“Every season’s really exciting, but we saw a lot of newborns in Moreton Bay last year, an exceptional amount.

“We didn’t need to leave the Bay from mid-September to the end of October because the mothers were using it as a nursery, which meant we were able to spend a lot more time with the whales.

“There was also a lot of physical playfulness with the dolphins, a lot of interaction, which is not unusual, but it’s really exciting to see.”

Eco-friendly boost

Get set for a whale of a season

During the past few months, Brisbane’s only purpose-built whale watching vessel, MV Eye-Spy, has been undergoing a $2 million facelift, which Kerry says will further add to its eco-friendly capabilities.

Two MTU engines have been fitted, which are much quieter, as well as two new generators.

“It will use less fuel, which means less exhaust emissions as well and it’s a lot cleaner and quieter,” Kerry explains.

“It shuts half the cylinders when we’re idling with the whales, which will also reduce emissions.

“New skewback propellers will reduce noise for the whales and the people.”

Kerry’s watched as the whale population has grown since commercial whaling stopped in Australia in the late 1970s and says it’s allowing Brisbane Whale Watching guests to be awed by a greater variety of other marine life.

A constant delight

Get set for a whale of a season

“When I first started going out it would take me an hour to find a pod of whales.

“It’s Australia’s success story – a species endangered by hunting is now back to full recovery.

“Now that there’s so many more whales, we will often go in and do some turtle and dugong spotting.”

After almost three decades of whale tours, Kerry says she still relishes seeing the delight of first-time and seasoned whale watchers when they spy the giants of the sea.

“It’s amazing to see a 40-tonne animal rolling upside down,” she says.

“When you come eye to eye, it just touches your soul.”

Amazing antics

Get set for a whale of a season

Kerry says passengers are treated to whales spy-hopping, where they’re vertical in the water, kicking their tail to stay above the surface, as well as pectoral slapping and other antics on the journey, which lasts about four-and-a-half hours.

“Pectoral slapping is incredible, with their fins about 2.5m-3m long.

“And it’s all against the backdrop of Moreton Island and Flinders Reef – it’s like nowhere else in the world.”

A well as breathtaking whale sightings, guests are treated to a gourmet picnic lunch with chicken, ham, potato salad, fresh salad and fresh fruit, as well as cheese platters, and the vessel is fully licensed.

A range of packages

Get set for a whale of a season

Guests can choose from several packages, including Whale Watching Adventures, VIP Whale Watching Adventure and a Premium Whale Watching Adventure.

“We have people coming four or five times in a season, so we have season passes too,” Kerry says.

“One couple from England came nine days in a row with us and every day they could see different behaviours of the whales – they were rapt.”

Find out more or book a cruise here.

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