USC lecturer and former Olympic K4 champion Gayle Mayes at the Paddle Out for the Whales event.
USC lecturer and former Olympic K4 champion Gayle Mayes at the Paddle Out for the Whales event. Blake Antrobus

Researcher, former Olympic champ headlines Paddle Out

WITH textbook knowledge and an Olympic championship behind her, Gayle Mayes knows first hand the importance of whales to the Fraser Coast community.

The University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer was one of the main participants during Saturday's Paddle Out for the Whales at Scarness Beach.

Ms Mayes, who has conducted research on the effect whales and dolphins have interacting with people, said conservation efforts like the Paddle Out remain important to the Fraser Coast.

She said the event helped people connect with "what's on the shore and what's out on the water.”

"It's fantastic to have the one minute of silence out of respect for the whales hunted and killed,” Ms Mayes said.

Ms Mayes research is also a balance to her life as a professional paddler, having been part of the first women's K4 team to represent Australia at the 1992 Olympics.

She has also participated in several other world paddlesport championships, including canoeing, kayaking, outrigging and dragonboating.

It's this balance between practical and theoretical work that has helped Ms Mayes appreciate the importance of whale preservation.

"Whale watching for the Bay is an incredibly important activity, not only for tourism but also for research,” she said.



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