Humpback whales are the gentle giants of the sea and now you can see them up close from within their own environment, with Australia’s 1st Swim with Humpback Whales experience on Australia’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.
Sunreef Mooloolaba launched its Swim with Whales experience in 2014 and there is strong demand for this truly unique wildlife experience.
Just one hour north of Queensland’s capital Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast waters are clear and warm, even in winter, offering perfect conditions to see these gentle giants in their own environment.
“Nothing can describe the feeling when you are just metres away from these animals and they look you straight in the eye,” Sunreef Swim with Whales supervisor Dan Hart.
Sunreef offer four-hour experiences but with a limited season from July to October, everyone is encouraged to book early to avoid disappointment.
Tours offer a unique and intimate experience with just 20 guests aboard, with some tours taking place on Australia Zoo’s research vessel Croc One.
In 2016, more than 22,000 humpbacks are expected to make the migration north from Antarctica starting in about March, with the Swim with the Whales Experience running from July through until the end of October. After eating up to four ton of krill and small fish a day each in the Antarctic over summer, the Humpbacks migrate to the warmer northern waters which provide perfect temperatures to give birth to their calves in the sheltered waters of Queensland’s coastline.
As part of the Swim with Whale Experiences Sunreef Mooloolaba is working closely with researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast to find out more about the humpback whale species and their environment to help ensure their preservation into the future.
Dan said “It’s so exciting to know, as we work to prepare for their arrival and talk with whale researchers about their continuing research this year, that the whales are preparing too, feeding and fattening themselves up ready for their travels.
“I just can’t wait to get in the water with them again. It is such a unique experience that every time it’s just like my first all over again. It’s almost indescribable but it gives you a rare insight into their world – it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.
“I also love seeing and hearing everyone’s reactions when we have a great encounter – everyone is so awestruck. We see the whales from the surface and then you will hear the swimmers squealing excitedly through their snorkels as the whale swims past – its takes your breath away every time!”
Dan said Sunreef’s Swimming with Whales Experience was operated under a strict Code of Conduct to protect both the whales and the participants.
Participants who take part in a Swim with Humpback Whales Experience can expect a four-hour round trip with a maximum of 20 participants.
Dan said Sunreef provide a full briefing on what to expect and safety procedures as well as providing all required equipment.
Once a whale is sighted, the boat will be put into neutral 100m or more away from the whale, and if the conditions are determined safe by our trained crew, swimmers will be allowed into the water with a guide and a floating line attached to the boat for safety.
“Then it’s all up to the whale – it is a natural experience and it is 100% on the whale’s own terms,” Dan said.
“In our experience, the whales seem as intrigued by us as we are of by them and often come close to swimmers, gliding effortlessly around us, with such a gentleness that its like they recognise our fragility in comparison and know we are there out of wonder and respect,” Dan said.
The trips include wetsuit and snorkelling gear hire. It takes about 15 minutes from the Sunreef dock to get out to the beautiful waters off Mooloolaba, which are at their best during the winter months when the whales migrate. Water temperatures during this time range from 17 to 23 degrees C and visibility is regularly up to 30 metres.
The 2016 Sunreef Swim with Whales season will start on July 8th and run through until October 23, 2016 and costs $149 per person.
Sunreef Mooloolaba, based in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is the longest established dive centre on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) with roots starting back in 1976.
Sunreef is a 5 Star PADI Training Centre and offers accredited dive courses for all levels of divers as well as local reef dives, snorkelling trips and diving on the ex-HMAS Brisbane. Sunreef also plans and guides international dive trips and travel as well as dive equipment sales and servicing.
The whale swimming and watching operations work out of Mooloolaba in the heart of Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.
For more information on Sunreef and swimming with the whales visit www.sunreef.com.au or call 07 5444 5656.
Photo Credit Above: Katie Jackson
Photo Credit Cover Home Page: Migration Media