Swimming with whales trial to start this winter

A swimmer reaches out to a humpback whale in Hervey Bay waters ahead of the launch of immersive whale tours this season.
A swimmer reaches out to a humpback whale in Hervey Bay waters ahead of the launch of immersive whale tours this season. Contributed

SELECT Hervey Bay charter operators will host immersive whale tours on a trial basis this season allowing visitors to take the plunge into the humpbacks' domain.

Fraser Coast Opportunities said it was one of the one of the world's first immersive humpback experiences.

Tourism manager for Fraser Coast Opportunities Robbie Cornelius said the immersive whale experience would consolidate Hervey Bay's reputation as Australia's premium humpback viewing destination.

"We have been working very closely with the State Government and our tourism operators to get the project to trial stage,'' he said.

"Obviously the welfare of the whales is paramount, as well as the safety of the participants, so we wanted to ensure all the checks and balances were in place before we could officially welcome our first customers."

"Needless to say, the whale watch operators involved will be required to abide by the existing regulations under the Nature Conservation Act, as well as the conditions of their existing permits."

"Nowhere else in Australia or even the world offers a humpback whale experience comparable with Hervey Bay because the whales stay to play for extended periods and are not just migrating through."

Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said the immersive experience would be a huge tourism drawcard for the region.

"No other destination provides anything as intimate, up close and personal as the Fraser Coast whale watching experience which will enter a whole new dimension with this exciting new offering for visitors to our region,'' he said.

"For the first time, people will be able to venture into the water with the whales and totally immerse themselves in their world.

"Innovative experiences such as this are well suited to the world class natural attributes of the Fraser Coast region, and will greatly assist the industry in reaching its 2020 visitor expenditure target of $759 million."

Fraser Coast Opportunities general manager David Spear said the program would provide significant economic benefits for the Fraser Coast.

"We have worked very carefully to ensure we would introduce an innovative and world-class product befitting our unique natural environment that had upsides for the whole community," he said.

"We are optimistic of a successful trial period and then making the immersive whale experience a permanent inclusion in our tourism offering.

"More than 7000 whales visit our protected waters each season and stay for up to 10 days at a time.

"This happens nowhere else along the migration where the whales are moving through the open ocean.

"We have a large concentration of whales gathering within the relatively small space of the bay and thanks to the protection offered by Fraser Island, we have this safe sanctuary for the whales and the perfect platform of calm waters for people to engage and interact with these incredible creatures,'' he said.

Topics:  fraser coast opportunities hervey bay whale watching

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