The Coffs Coast Advocate/Supplied

Economy doesn't hit whale watching

WATCHING the flick of a tail, a cheeky wave or one of those breathtaking breaches, we become so fond of our humpback whales.

From July to November these giants of the deep call the Bay home.

But sadly it’s time to say goodbye to these majestic mammals once more, as the end of the whale watching season is upon us.

Virginia Brigden, who runs Whalesong Cruises with her husband Jason, says it has been a “superb” season, with whale numbers on the rise and the antics of the great creatures impressing thousands of watchers.

“Overall there’ve been great whales, lots of whales, so the quality of the whale watching has been superb,” Mrs Brigden said.

“At specific times there’ve been whales everywhere, so the whale numbers are not dwindling by any means.”

Mrs Brigden said the last humpback pods tended to depart the Bay and head back to the cooler waters of the south at the end of October or the start of November.

“Last year we saw them up to November 5 and in 2007 we saw them until October 31,” she said.

“The year before that it was November 6.

“You never know exactly when they will go, but you get to gauge what’s going on out there by how many whales there are and by the temperature.”

Many of the calves had been breaching, waving, smacking their tails and generally showing off for their audiences, she said.

For Peter Lynch, owner operator of Blue Dolphin Tours, this season has been surprisingly fruitful.

“We’ve had the second highest number of passengers we’ve ever had,” said Mr Lynch, who’s been operating tours since 1997.

“Last year was the highest and they are supposed to have been the two worst years with petrol prices going up and now the financial crisis ... but it seems our little product has suited the market.”

Mr Lynch’s “little product” has also been recently cast on the worldwide stage after Great Barrier Reef Island caretaker Ben Southall took a spin on the Blue Dolphin to see the whales and sang its praises on his blog.

This, Mr Lynch believes, will benefit the whale watching industry, as Mr Southall – of the Best Job in the World fame – has a significant following both nationally and internationally.

“That was fantastic for us and for Hervey Bay,” he said.

“The people who are coming here next year will be in their planning stages so hopefully this can generate a bit of interest in the whales and our region.

“What we’re really trying to push is that the whales are here from July until early November because people really don’t know and they don’t think they are here that long.

“So as an industry and a group we are working hard to promote that you can still see the whales until at least the end of October.”

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