Record whale season predicted as hundreds join Paddle Out
ANDREW Ellis can't remember the last time he'd seen so many people celebrate the importance of whales to Hervey Bay.
About 300 people took to the waters of the Whale City for yesterday's Paddle Out for Whales, celebrating whale conservation and the mammals' importance to the Fraser Coast.
The message appears to be paying off, with a marine expert saying the region is experiencing an "exceptional" season this winter.
Fraser Coast marine biologist Yvonne Miles said there were already good numbers being spotted by tour operators, including some rare southern right whales.
"Numbers will be up for sure, I'm hoping it will be a record," Ms Miles said.
"We're seeing a 10 per cent increase like most years."
Ms Miles said it was important for people to keep coming out and supporting events like the Paddle Out to help spread awareness of the importance of whales to the community.
Yesterday's event was a first for many, including 11-year-old Dylan Best. He said it was a good way for everyone to get together.
Mr Ellis, a 10-year veteran of the Paddle Out, said it was the biggest turnout he'd seen at the event in over a decade.
"The event was started as a protest meeting against the killing of whales by Japan under the guise of a scientific permit," Mr Ellis said.
"It has developed over the years into a celebration of the whales we have living and coming up here in Hervey Bay.
"It's one of those real fun events... it's relaxed and a family event, it's on the Hervey Bay foreshore, you just can't get it any better."