FRASER PROUD: Creatures of the deep drive local tourism
OVER the past 30 years, a very Fraser Proud Andrew Ellis of Pacific Whale Foundation has observed Hervey Bay's terrific economic growth - driven by the success of the region's whale watch industry.
"It was a sleepy little fishing town and now it's a metropolis, a major city in a regional town," Mr Ellis said.
"I've seen great economic changes in the region with the whale watching industry pulling in millions of dollars in accommodation and retail spending between visitation on Fraser Island, whale watching and eco-tourism."
Pacific Whale Foundation is a worldwide, not for profit, scientific humpback whale research organisation based in Hawaii. It oversees satellite models across the globe. Mr Ellis said that Hervey Bay is unique.
"The serene Bay waters is a perfect environment for scientists to monitor and collect data of humpback whale mothers with their calves."
Mr Ellis' knowledge of the whale watching industry in the bay is extensive. He recounts the foundation's significant history.
"Greg Kaufman came to Australia to study humpback whales 34 years ago," Mr Ellis said.
"For over 32 of those years his studies were relied upon by universities, international whaling bodies and Queensland parks and wildlife."
Mr Ellis is a passionate advocate of humpbacks and became involved with the Pacific Whale Foundation seven years ago subsequently taking over the commercial whale watching business two years ago after Mr Kaufman's retirement.
The boat is manned by a captain, a naturalist, researcher and two volunteers. Mr Ellis wants the public to know how the foundation benefits the local community.
"There is a misconception that the funds we make go back to head office but in fact, all funds we make are spent on research and conservation projects here in Hervey Bay.
"Head office allows us to self-govern, so all our money goes back into the local community and economy in some way shape or form," Mr Ellis said.
Mr Ellis has travelled the world in his role, conducting research and conversation projects but believes the Fraser Coast model is the best.
"We as a city of Hervey Bay and the region of the Fraser Coast can push forward with the model of eco-tourism as a sustainable industry. It will continue to grow as it is not detrimental in any way.
"We offer a natural product in a natural environment."
Learn more at pacificwhale.com.au