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Whales in the Whitsundays

Whale breaching at Fantasea Reefworld
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Whale breaching at Fantasea Reefworld
Whales visit the Whitsundays every year on their annual migration north during the winter months. From June to September, whales are a common sight frolicking amongst the islands and even occasionally out on the Great Barrier Reef. They choose the Whitsundays to give birth to their calves, choosing the warm, calm, protected waters of the Whitsundays as in ideal nursery.

There are currently no formal whale watching tours in the Whitsundays, but whale sightings are a free bonus inclusion on most tours around the region. The best way to see whales is to hop on any of the day tours around the Whitsunday waters, as whale sightings occur almost daily for most of the boats in the region during these peak winter months.

Seeing the whales from the air is a real treat, and those enjoying seaplane or helicopter scenic flights are lucky to get a whole new perspective of these magnificent creatures.

Humpback and pilot whales are the most common species sighted, and Migaloo the white humpback whale has also been seen in the Whitsundays for the last few years. 
Local fisherman has really close whale
encounter, incl underwater footage
August 2013
  Kiana sees whales up close
July 2011
       Whales playing near Airlie Beach
September 2011
Breaching, exposing the humpback's white belly
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Breaching, exposing the humpback's white belly

25 September 2011

The whales are still enjoying the waters of the Whitsundays, even though temperatures are starting to warm up and it's quite comfortable for swimming. Spotted between Grimston Point on the northern cost of Airlie Beach and Double Cone Islands, those two islands you can see from just about everywhere in Airlie Beach, this whale was having a "whale of a time", if you'll excuse the pun. Seen happily frolicking for over an hour, the humpback whale was lying on it's back, slapping it's tail repeatedly, flapping it's fins around as if it was alternating between waving and doing backstroke, and shooting out of the water for frequent series of breaching. With only 2 boats to witness this display, it was a special sight indeed.

You can hire a boat yourself, if you'd like to get out and about on your own schedule for fishing, swimming, snorkelling or whale spotting (just keep outside of the 300m exclusion zone). Visit Whitsunday Boat Hire for more info.
So close you can see all the bumps on her chin!
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So close you can see all the bumps on her chin!

17 - 20 July 2011

The ship Pacific Sunrise, on a regular 3 night charter, encountered whales near Whitsunday Island. The whales came right up to the boat, inspecting the tender (which dangles off the side of the boat) and gave the guests a really good look. The played in the clear blue waters beside the boat for ages, waving fins and flapping tails. 
Find out more about Pacific Sunrise

Cruise Whitsundays guests had a close encounter
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Cruise Whitsundays guests had a close encounter

18 July 2011

Cruise Whitsundays guests who had spent the day out at the Great Barrier Reef on the Knuckle Reef pontoon, were treated to a whale encounter on the way home. The whales came up so close to the boat, that the captain had to switch off the engines. The guests got to watch the playful whales for about an hour. They came up close for a good look, swam directly under the boat and waved their tails and fins around, before heading off into the sun set and letting the guests get back to Airlie Beach. 
Find out more about Cruise Whitsundays

Safe whale watching practices

In the Whitsunday Whale Protection Area, vessels can be no closer than 300m to a whale. Whales may approach a boat, in which case the skipper must turn the engines off immediately. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GPRMPA)'s website details safe whale watching practices to protect this incredible species and ensure their ongoing survival. 
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