MORE than 52,000 people experienced the gentle giants of Hervey Bay waters this year despite strong winds putting a dent in numbers.
Whale watching operators were on track for a record-breaking season until the windy weather hit causing issues over 11 days.
Operators recorded 52,251 passengers this year compared to 55,448 in 2016.
The wind picked up in the second week of the September-October school holidays, a peak period for whale watching.
Fraser Coast Tourism and Events marketing and communications manager Bradley Nardi said he was confident the season's passenger numbers would have been up had it not been for the weather.
Blue Dolphin Tours owner Peter Lynch said people wanted to go out but "we just couldn't get out due to the weather".