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Featured Wildlife Journeys

  • Humpback Whale Spyhopping

  • Ocean Defender Vessel

  • Humpback Whale Mugging

  • Indo Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin

  • Pacific Whale Foundation Research Team

Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia

Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia

Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia (PWFEAA) was founded in 2011 as a fully owned subsidiary of Pacific Whale Foundation, an international NGO dedicated to protecting our ocean and marine life since 1980. 

Based in Hervey Bay in Queensland, PWFEAA takes guests on voyages in The Great Sandy Marine Park to experience the wonder of its unique marine habitat and its incredible array of diverse marine life. 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.

A firm believer in science-based data collection in order to identify threats to our eco-system, PWFEAA encourages our guests to utilise citizen-science opportunities to assist our own scientists in discovering the best way to improve the environment for our marine wildlife. 

With a mission to protect the oceans through science and advocacy and to inspire environmental stewardship, the social enterprise company runs eco tours and a merchandise shop to raise funding for education, conservation and research projects, with regular involvement in school visits, virtual classrooms, community forums and educational conferences.

Eco Certified Advanced

As part of our commitment to sustainability we have developed a code of practice relating to our wildlife interactions along with involvement in numerous research and conservation programs. We have also sought independent verification of our practices through Ecotourism Australia. Our Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation is awarded to Australia's leading and most innovative ecotourism products, providing an opportunity to learn about the environment with an operator who is committed to achieving best practice when using resources wisely, contributing to the conservation of the environment and helping local communities.


Speciality areas

  • Birds
  • Fish & Marine Invertebrates
  • Marine Mammals
  • Reptiles & Amphibians
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Quick facts

  • Hervey Bay is regarded as the whale watching capital of Australia, offering some of the most up close and personal humpback whale encounters.
  • This calm bay provides the perfect conditions for thousands of migrating whales to rest, play and interact with other whales between July and October.
  • Breaching, whalesongs and muggings are common to witness.

About the region

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is a natural bay located in Southeast Queensland between the mainland and World Heritage-listed K'gari Fraser Island, just below the start of the Great Barrier Reef. With depths generally less than 18 metres, this wide shallow bay of approximately 4000 square kilometres, provides perfect conditions for thousands of migrating whales to rest, play and interact with other whales in the calm waters.

The waters of Hervey Bay come alive with Humpback Whales between July and late 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 (curious whales approach and interact with vessels) 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. Whales stay in the Hervey Bay region for an average of 10 days with various age groups enjoying the tranquil waters, including mothers and their calves, as well as juvenile and adult males that can often be heard “singing” underwater.

Long regarded as Australia’s whale watching capital, Hervey Bay was the first declared Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance in 2019.

 

 

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Meet our guides

  • Meet our guides

    Andrew Ellis

    With a life spent on the water, and a thirty year history with whale watching in Hervey Bay, Operations Director & Captain Andrew brings incredible experience to the team. “Nothing is more exciting than to watch the expectations of our guests fulfilled each day on Ocean Defender. The excitement and passion shown by all aboard when they experience humpback whales up close and personal is a very special moment for me each and every day.” Andrew’s passion for our marine environment is shown by his love of joining school students...

    Meet our guides

    Andrew Ellis

    With a life spent on the water, and a thirty year history with whale watching in Hervey Bay, Operations Director & Captain Andrew brings incredible experience to the team. “Nothing is more exciting than to watch the expectations of our guests fulfilled each day on Ocean Defender. The excitement and passion shown by all aboard when they experience humpback whales up close and personal is a very special moment for me each and every day.” Andrew’s passion for our marine environment is shown by his love of joining school students for discussions on how we can all make a difference, and ensuring harmony with our increasingly pressured natural environments. Andrew hosts numerous conservation events, including Hervey Bay's annual Paddle out for Whales event and beach clean-ups in the local community. An accomplished public speaker, Andrew loves to talk with community groups on our marine environment and how we can all make a difference as individuals. With a working lifetime spent on commercial vessels from square rigged sailing vessels to tourism vessels and just about everything in between, Andrew needs the smell of salt air and the joy of experiencing our ocean in everything he does.
  • Meet our guides

    Dr Barry McGovern

    Growing up on Ireland’s west coast and spending all his spare time on, in, or near the water, it was inevitable that Barry would end up working in the marine field! He joined PWF Eco Adventures Australia in 2021, having finished his PhD at the University of Queensland where he studied the social behaviour of bottlenose dolphins. He leads the research team in Hervey Bay using drones to monitor the health of the humpback whale population. Barry has worked with whales and dolphins all over the world covering a...

    Meet our guides

    Dr Barry McGovern

    Growing up on Ireland’s west coast and spending all his spare time on, in, or near the water, it was inevitable that Barry would end up working in the marine field! He joined PWF Eco Adventures Australia in 2021, having finished his PhD at the University of Queensland where he studied the social behaviour of bottlenose dolphins. He leads the research team in Hervey Bay using drones to monitor the health of the humpback whale population. Barry has worked with whales and dolphins all over the world covering a range of areas so brings a lot of experience to the team. An accomplished photographer, Barry's love of our environment means he spends all of his time outdoors, and not just on the water. A passion for sport sees Barry play in local football leagues, and as a keen golfer has played at the renown St Andrews course in the UK. A lover of camping, bird watching and anything in the outdoors, Barry loves growing his own vegetables in his garden at home. Barry loves scientific research that can shape conservation measures and changes for the future, all for the betterment of our marine and terrestrial environments.
  • Meet our guides

    Darcy Stirling

    Growing up in Western Australia, Darcy spent her childhood camping, boating, and exploring the outdoors. This quickly stemmed into a passion for conservation of our natural environments, ultimately leading to the completion of a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology and Marine Science at the University of Western Australia. Throughout University I spent my time volunteering in differing research projects focusing on species such as sea turtles, black cockatoos, and whales. I am also a passionate scuba diver, having spent time working as a dive master on the Great Barrier...

    Meet our guides

    Darcy Stirling

    Growing up in Western Australia, Darcy spent her childhood camping, boating, and exploring the outdoors. This quickly stemmed into a passion for conservation of our natural environments, ultimately leading to the completion of a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology and Marine Science at the University of Western Australia. Throughout University I spent my time volunteering in differing research projects focusing on species such as sea turtles, black cockatoos, and whales. I am also a passionate scuba diver, having spent time working as a dive master on the Great Barrier Reef. Darcy loves sharing her knowledge of animals and conservation with customers and find myself continually inspired to action by the unique wildlife that call Australia home. Darcy leads our eco-cruises and mixes facts and stories about humpback whales in her narration to guests aboard, ensuring the not only are the behaviours of the whales explained, but that all aboard understand the importance of the whales to the marine eco-system. Darcy has that unique ability to keep adults and children enthralled with her engaging speaking style and loves visiting schoolrooms to ensure our young grow up with a healthy respect for our environment.