Australian Wildlife Journeys (AWJ) is excited to announce Indian Ocean Experiences, covering Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, along with Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia in Queensland, as the latest additions to the collective.
Indian Ocean Experiences, led by Owner & Manager Lisa Preston, shares the remarkable natural wonders, history and culture of Australia’s Indian Ocean Islands. Best known for the epic annual migration of 60 million red crabs from the forest to the ocean commencing at the onset of the wet season, generally November or December, Christmas Island’s Jurassic style rainforest, jagged cliffs, coral beaches, and tropical reefs provide refuge for 90 species of crab and diverse wildlife encounters above and below the water.
Regarded as one of Australia’s best birdwatching destinations with 80,000 nesting seabirds visiting each year, Indian Ocean Experiences offers shared and tailor-made birdwatching experiences across both Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, providing access to numerous endemics and subspecies, including one of the world’s most beautiful seabirds, the Golden Bosun. Christmas Island is also home to the world’s rarest booby and frigatebird, the Abbott’s Booby and the Christmas Island Frigatebird, whilst the Cocos Buff-banded Rail is only found on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Coconut-lined castaway beaches, rugged coastlines, dense tropical jungles, serene waterfalls and wildlife largely unafraid of humans, provide photographers dream vistas and subjects at every turn. In addition to terrestrial experiences, Christmas Island boasts over 60 dive sites and some of the biggest drop-offs in the world, with visibility regularly up to 50 metres providing a lens to an underwater world of marine mammals, 650 species of tropical fish, manta rays and 88 species of coral. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands provide world-renowned diving and snorkelling, with the Cocos Lagoon home to an estimated 15,000 Green Turtles and 15,000 Hawksbill Turtles (listed as critically endangered worldwide).
In conjunction with Christmas Island National Park, Indian Ocean Experiences offers a hands-on Citizen Science program in February & July, contributing to the conservation of Christmas Island’s endemic Blue-tailed Skink and Lister’s Gecko, along with beach clean-ups, tree planting and other rainforest rehabilitation activities.
“I am delighted that Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, both of which have extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities, will be destinations featured by Australian Wildlife Journeys,” says Lisa Preston. “There is no doubt our shared values of small group, sustainable and conservation focussed touring make for a wonderful partnership going forward – we look forward to sharing the beauty of our islands, and our unique wildlife, both terrestrial and marine, with more travellers from around the globe.”
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia offers whale watching tours from Hervey Bay’s Great Sandy Straits Marina. Based on over 35 years of local Humpback Whale research and more than four decades of global marine animal research and ocean conservation, the eco-cruises are led by dedicated experts in the field.
Part of the Great Sandy Marine Park, the waters of Hervey Bay come alive with Humpback Whales between July and October, with the region laying claim to some of the most active and inquisitive whales found anywhere across the globe, with breaches, whale songs and muggings common practice. The region is a critical resting ground for whales, with breeding pairs migrating ahead of mothers and calves, all part of the annual migration to and from the Southern Ocean.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia offers the opportunity to observe these majestic creatures up close and personal via the ‘Ultimate Whale Watch’ experience, a three hour cruise on the custom-built Ocean Defender; a low profile rigid inflatable boat with a capacity of 40 passengers that ensures all guests benefit from unobstructed 360-degree views. Led by expert marine biologists, guests learn the latest whale facts and findings with the opportunity to hear the ethereal songs of these majestic mammals using underwater hydrophones.
“The opportunity to further educate our guests through appreciation of the natural behaviours of the Humpback Whales and the beauty of our waterways is something we don't take lightly. Threats to our marine envionment are ever increasing and to have the opportunity to inspire change through our actions is a huge part of our mission,” says Director of Pacific Whale Foundation Australia, Andrew Ellis.
As the only operator in the region to have been researching Humpbacks Whales for over three decades, Pacific Whale Foundation scientists are responsible for the South Pacific’s longest running photo-identification project and the largest curated database of Humpback Whales in Eastern Australia, having detailed the life histories of over 6,000 individual Humpback Whales.
To support the growing citizen science movement and understanding of the world’s population of Humpback Whales, the organisation offers a free Whale & Dolphin Tracker app, allowing guests and the general public to upload critical data in real time from mobile devices. Guests are encouraged to upload their fluke photos to Pacific Whale Foundation's database and support an innovative Marine Monitoring Program, curated by the Australian Marine Debris Database, that allows the public to act as community scientists, by monitoring, collecting and reporting marine debris found in our oceans and on our shorelines.
Being a social enterprise, all proceeds from sales of the whale watching experiences and merchandise from the Foundation's Ocean Store support whale and dolphin research, marine education for children, and ocean conservation programs in Australia and around the world.
Captioned images to support Media Release available for download here (image credits apply).
About Australian Wildlife Journeys
Australian Wildlife Journeys is a group of Australia's leading independently operated wildlife tourism experiences, showcasing wildlife encounters in the wild, combined with warm hospitality. A high level of guiding expertise and focus on interpretation that connects with guests, encourages self-reflection and contributes to a better future for Australia's wildlife through 'conservation actions' underpins the group. Australian Wildlife Journeys is part of Tourism Australia’s Signature Experiences of Australia program that promotes outstanding tourism experiences within a variety of special categories
Members of Australian Wildlife Journeys:
New South Wales: Boutique Wildlife Tours
Victoria: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours
Tasmania: Premier Travel Tasmania, The Maria Island Walk
South Australia: Australian Coastal Safaris, Exceptional Kangaroo Island, Murray River Safari
Western Australia: Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo, Naturaliste Charters
Northern Territory: Lords Kakadu & Arnhemland Safaris
Queensland: FNQ Nature Tours, Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia
National Territory: Indian Ocean Experiences