THE first humpback whale pod has been spotted in Hervey Bay, sparking excitement at the upcoming whale season.
Hervey Bay Whale Watch operator Jill Perry said she saw two sub-adult whales last Saturday visiting the bay on their annual migration back towards the Antarctic.
"The whales usually head up from Antarctica to the Whitsundays or even to Papua New Guinean waters before heading back down towards Hervey Bay to feed their young," she said.
While humpback whale numbers have increased in total from 400 to more than 20,000 over the past three decades, Ms Perry said people now had more enthusiasm for interacting with the whales.
"People can now go for a swim near the humpbacks and the more noise you make, the more they want to check you out," she said.
The arrival of the whales to the area has also become increasingly earlier over time.
"Back when we started 25 years ago whale season began in September," she said. "Now it starts some time in mid-July."
Whale season in Hervey Bay is expected to be in full swing by mid-July.