Hervey Bay's Amanda French got the biggest buzz out of our whales whens he set sail on the Moon Dancer.
Hervey Bay's Amanda French got the biggest buzz out of our whales whens he set sail on the Moon Dancer.

Much more to learn about our whales

WHEN I first set sail two weeks ago aboard research vessel Moon Dancer, I thought I had seen everything imaginable in my whale-watching experiences growing up in Hervey Bay.

Like Africa's animal safaris, I'd ticked off the whale watching equivalent – the Hervey Bay five – mugging, spy-hopping, tail slapping, pectoral slapping and of course the powerful breach.

But what I experienced in six days with the Franklins turned my own theory on its head – there's so much more to understand about these majestic whales.

Day one we boarded the research vessel inducted as research interns and met our fellow expedition members.

The luxury 40-foot catamaran was incredible – and home to just seven of us for the next six days.

We set sail from Urangan Harbour and it wasn't long before we sighted our first pod.

The first of my never-seen-before behaviours on the trip.

We came across a mum fluke-up feeder – a mother lying on her back feeding her calf, her stunning fluke held above the water's surface like it was planted there.

The next few days presented even more unique encounters.

As if it wasn't enough to have pods everywhere we looked – on the horizon, beside the boat, swimming along with us – the second morning brought with it one of the most memorable encounters of the expedition.

The morning began early with a rare encounter with a mum and her new calf.

The baby curiously swam close to the vessel with mum keeping her a safe distance from us, until eventually giving in to the curious calf.

She brought the baby to the back of the vessel, lay underneath her and lifted her out above the water's surface so she could have a good look at us.

She was about 20 centimetres away from the back of the vessel.

The pair stayed with us for the next 20 minutes, the baby rolling from side to side eye-balling us through the water.

The experience brought a number of the expedition members to tears, overcome by the connection the baby appeared to make with those of us on board.

This is part one of a six-part series. Check back tomorrow for the next instalment of Amanda's story.



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