The whale-watching season is in full swing in Hervey Bay, along the Queensland coast, with daily ‘muggings’ from pods of humpbacks.
A mugging happens when the inquisitive humpbacks come in close for a better look, often spending hours at a time circling a boat and playing up to visitors.
Founder of the Pacific Whale Foundation, Greg Kaufman, says “these ‘muggings’ are very unusual and have made whale watching in Hervey Bay legendary”.
Kaufman has been conducting vital research in Hervey Bay for more than two decades and said the area is the only place in the world where humpbacks consistently approach vessels.
“The curious humpbacks of Hervey Bay provide some of the most unusual and prolonged encounters with humans,” he said.
Whale watching in Hervey Bay is not just a one-off experience either, with three distinct seasons during the migration.
“Hervey Bay is a preferred area for yearlings and sub-adult (sexually immature whales), followed by mature females in late August, and then we begin to see mothers with newborn calves in September and October,” says Kaufman.
By mid-September the mature males have found the bay, and the waters come alive with their haunting songs.
“The arrival of the males also means increased activity with males competing with one another for access to females.”
“This means more aerial movement such as breaching and many head, tail and flipper displays.”