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Snorkelling with humpback whales in Maloolaba

A magical encounter with gentle giants

In winter an amazing things happens along the East Coast of Australia, the humpback whales migrate north to calf in warmer waters. Hundreds of whales can be seen on a daily basis. We had seen these whales a few times whilst on the coast, off Stradbroke Island, and off the Gold Coast beaches but further up in the Sunshine Coast is a place to get closer. Sunreef dive centre is the only place in Australia which has a licence to take people out to snorkel in the water with these gentle giants. We decided we couldn't pass the opportunity to get up close with these huge creatures to booked on a tour on our days off work.

We only live a couple of hours south so packed up our tent and booked in at the beachfront campsite at Maloolaba. On the way we had a day at the beach on Bribie Island.

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This is an island on the way to the Sunshine Coast which is joined to the mainland by a bridge. It has a beautiful white sandy beach on one side and has Pummistone Passage on the mainland side of the island which is renown for its dugong spotting. This side of the island has calm crystal clear waters perfect for swimming.

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Further up the coast in Maloolaba is another beautiful beach with the campsite just behind it. It has a little town with lots of bars and restaurants to choose from and is a nice relaxing spot for a little break.

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Our whale watching expedition started early morning the next day. We arrived at SunReef bright and early and they fitted us up with a wet-suit, snorkel and fins and off we went on the boat. It was a small group of people with a very interesting guide who was very knowledgeable on the whales.

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First we would steer out to see is search of any whales, after we spotted one the boat slowed down to see if the whale is interested and curious. If the whale decides to swim off the boat will not follow it, we will just wait for another whale that is more curious. The experience is all down to the whales as Sunreef do not want to disrupt or intimidate them at all, just observe. The whale we saw was not afraid and was very curious, coming close to the boat so the boat speeds off and we all jump in the water, hoping that the whale will continue on its path and we will be able to see the whale in the water directly underneath us.

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It sounds easy right...... It is much harder to spot them in reality. It is natural to stick your head under and look straight ahead, it's hard to get used to looking down as you expect the whale to be coming at you horizontally but they are directly underneath as they swim very deep. It took a few attempts but we saw them and even more amazing was the breaching they did.

Whales often breach there entire bodies out of the water and splash the water with there huge fins. There was a group of them and they were taking it in turns to haul there giant bodies out of the water causing huge splashes. We sat on the back of the boat with our feet in the water watching them breach again and again.

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It was just fantastic, the most beautiful experience and we are so grateful and happy to be able too see such an amazing sight as a humpback whale in the wild who feels happy enough to swim and breach right next to you. Thank you again Australia, your wildlife never ceases to amaze us.

Posted by Chelsandliam 00:52 Archived in Australia Tagged snorkelling australia whales bribie whale_watching maloolaba humpback_whales bribie_island

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