Humpback Whale Mugging
Humpback Whale Group
Indo Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
Pacific Whale Foundation Research Team
Ocean Defender Vessel
From: $74 USD
Duration: 3 hours
Type: Groups, Private Charter, Shared.
Departs: Daily at 7am, 11am & 2:30pm
Interests: Marine Mammals.
About Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia (PWFEAA)
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. 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.
Price per adult. Black-out dates may apply. Pricing is subject to availability and all prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Currency fluctuations may affect prices as quotes based on AUD. Prices are current at time of posting (1/4/23) and may differ when you book your travel. Please contact us for our current pricing and itinerary details*
Starting at the Great Sandy Straits Marina, you will board the custom-built Ocean Defender; a low profile rigid inflatable boat with a capacity of 38 passengers that ensures you will benefit from unobstructed 360-degree views at eye level with the whales, with forward facing seats and plenty of shade.
The relatively small area of Platypus Bay, combined with the popularity of the region for whales to rest, play and interact, means it is often not long after leaving the marina in our speedy vessel, before we spot these majestic creatures.
Over 30% of the 21,000 Humpbacks Whales that migrate down Australia’s eastern coast rest in the tranquil waters of Hervey Bay between July and October, with breeding pairs migrating ahead of mothers and calves, all part of the annual migration to and from the Southern Ocean.
Your crew, all trained in marine sciences, will interpret the amazing Humpback Whale behaviours including breaches, tail slaps, fluke-up dives, spy hopping and muggings; a common practice in Hervey Bay when the Humpback Whale approaches and stays close to the vessel for an extended period of time.
“Humpbacks are the most surface active of all the great whales, and there’s really no better place to watch them than in Hervey Bay. Everyone wants to see the big breach, although no one really knows why Humpbacks do it. One theory is that they jump out of the water to dislodge all the sea lice and parasites that attach themselves to their bodies. Another theory is that they breach to see a headland, as they rely totally on sight and sound to get around.”
Andrew Ellis - Director & Skipper
You will have the incredible opportunity to listen to ethereal whale songs, using the underwater hydrophones equipped with the vessel. There are also fun and educational activities led by our Marine Naturalists on board, to help inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Free snacks and soft drinks are included as part of your ticket, plus a full colour commemorative Whalewatch Guide developed by the Research Department at Pacific Whale Foundation.
Pricing: $99 AUD per person (adult), $69 (children aged 6-14 years)
Group Size: We have only a maximum of 38 passengers on board
Departure Point: Check in at Shop 1, Great Sandy Straits Marina, Urangan Hervey Bay.
Departure Times: 7:00am, 11:00am & 2:30pm - Please ensure you arrive at the departure point 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time so we can board all passengers and depart on time. Cruise duration is approximately 3 hours.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s research in Australia began in Hervey Bay in 1984 when founder, Greg Kaufman, visited South East Queensland as part of a documentary film project. Greg and his team quickly determined the area was a critical resting place for Humpback Whale mothers and calves heading back to their feeding grounds in the Antarctic and set about a long-term study focussing on these majestic mammals.
Every whale has its own unique features, including the overall shape of the flukes (or tail), trailing edges, acquired scars, and natural pigmentation. These characteristics can be identified in photos and compared with other sightings to match and track individual whales. Pacific Whale Foundation scientists have established the longest-running Humpback Whale photo-identification project in the South Pacific. The Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Catalogue is also the largest curated database of photo-identified Humpback Whales in East Australia and researchers have collected detailed life histories of over 6,900 whales that visit Hervey Bay between July to October, greatly adding to scientific understanding of the population’s ecology and behaviours.
Hervey Bay is unique because it is a mid-migratory resting ground for Humpback Whales; it is neither a breeding nor feeding ground. Mother and calf pairs are of particular interest to researchers, given their use of this resting area to provide maternal care, with research focussing on long-term monitoring and quantifying potential human and non-human threats whales face.
The focus of research has always been Hervey Bay, but the research team has also studied Humpback Whale movement and connectivity among various areas of eastern Australia, including Eden (New South Wales) and the Whitsundays/Cairns/Port Douglas region (Queensland). In addition, Humpback Whales moving between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean (Western Australia) have been studied; the first and only example of inter- ocean Humpback Whale movement between these two populations, which are otherwise thought to be separate. The organisation has an extensive library of peer reviewed journal articles, technical reports, conference presentations and supported/sponsored research.
Photo identification programs have been the backbone of marine mammal studies for decades, allowing researchers to identify individuals by comparing photos in existing catalogues. Photo-identification serves as a non-invasive way to gather information on the life histories of whales, including approximate age and migratory movements.
One of the key questions Pacific Whale Foundation is trying to answer is how long whales live for, as researchers do not have a definitive answer on this yet. The team is still tracking some of the whales that were photographed in the 1980s.
Guests and the general public can contribute to research as a citizen- scientist by donating Humpback Whale fluke photos. These can be uploaded while on board or after the tour, via the following website link or via their Whale & Dolphin Tracker app. These observations are also integrated with into the global catalogue Happy Whale citizen science program.
Marine debris is defined as any human-created waste that has entered the marine environment. Concerningly, most of the debris from land-based sources is composed of plastics and other materials that resist natural degradation.
A recent study of marine life found that flexible plastics are responsible for the largest proportion of marine life deaths. In the case of whales, once ingested, the plastics can accumulate in the stomach, with the mass eventually becoming so big that it obstructs the bowels and the whale starves to death. Sometimes, whales become entangled in fishing nets and rope and die that way.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia, has been running coastal marine clean-ups for many years in Hervey Bay, but since 2019 the aim has been to also record the types and quantity of debris found on the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database run by Tangaroa Blue. This database was created to enable volunteers and organisations who were running beach clean-up events to also collect data on what they were finding with a consistent methodology so it could be collated into a standardised national database. This is used to better inform legislators about future changes needed in managing this worldwide problem.
Since 2004, more than 7 million pieces of marine debris have been recorded into the AMDI database, creating a comprehensive overview of what amounts and types of marine debris are impacting beaches around the country, along with suggestions on how to reduce it. Many Pacific Whale Foundation guests are inspired to further their efforts through their own beach and coastal clean-ups, and are encouraged to log any debris collected into the AMDI database through Tangaroa Blue.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia has developed a series of best practice factsheets for ocean users and boaters who wish to view whales and dolphins. The “Be Whale Aware” and “Be Dolphin Wise” guidelines are designed to educate seagoers that their presence can affect marine wildlife and habitat.
Marine mammals often engage in important social and behavioural activities that may not be apparent to a casual viewer. These factsheets reinforce that approaching marine animals too closely or too quickly in a vessel often disrupts these behaviours and causes unnecessary stress.
Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia use profits from cruises to provide marine education for children, and support ocean conservation programs in Australia and around the world.
In addition to supporting school visits or onboard excursions, the organisation has started Hervey Bay Virtual Whalewatch; a simulated whale watching experience complete with sights and sounds, expert narration, and interactive educational activities. With a duration of one hour, this program and can be utilised for whole-class instruction or individual student participation.
Pacific Whale Foundation’s RETHINK campaign champions alternatives to everyday single-use plastics in an effort to save marine life. Plastic never truly biodegrades, breaking up into smaller pieces that remain in our environment. As plastic breaks into tiny pieces, it’s ingested by marine organisms and permeates the food chain.
Plastic polymers include noxious chemical additives and contaminants, with evidence that toxins disrupt endocrine systems, even at low concentrations for marine life.
It has been estimated that up to 1 billion marine animals die each year from plastic pollution. Pacific Whale Foundation run a Plastic Pollution Solutions program for schools, beach cleanups, marine debris and prevention research and have produced a series of factsheets and tips for download, to Reduce and Rethink single plastics usage.