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Monday, May 23, 2011

Time is not of the essence

Time they say is of the essence. Time and tide they say waits for no man. Time they say…. Who are THEY?

Time has slipped by for me with my blog and it has been two weeks since I put fingers to the keyboard but the whales of whom I write are on time, taking their time, making their way up the east coast of Australia on their annual migration.

Heading off during the months of March and April the humpback whales leave the feeding grounds of the Antarctica traveling up to 10,000 kilometers to the Whitsunday area, a perfect breeding and birthing ground of sub-tropical waters. In July the homeward journey begins. This is when the whales stop and play in Platypus Bay, off Fraser Island and Hervey Bay for one or two days and sometimes one or two weeks.

The migration appears to be completely structured, organized and perfectly orchestrated but when you come up close to a lolling whale in Hervey Bay you would not think that they had already swum thousands of miles, eaten little if nothing in the way of food. They appear happy, content and what is really fascinating, they appear to be interested in checking you out.

Tears have been known to flow down many a cheek of a mere mortal, me being one of them, when they come close to and make what can only be described as a spiritual connection with these massive mammals. This is when time stands still.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

'Thar she blows!'

Thar she blows!

It is only 12 weeks until all eyes start to search the horizon to find the fine spray of mist that indicates the first sighting of the first whale of the 25th season of whale watching in Hervey Bay.

Tension mounts. You have been onboard for about 20 minutes and the expanse of water glistens; the golden sands and dunes of Fraser Island take your attention. You have driven, flown or bused your way into Hervey Bay for what is probably a once in a lifetime adventure - to see a humpback whale. You begin to think that maybe you will not see a whale today. Then you hear the call, ‘thar she blows.’

You bounce to your feet and look in the direction of pointing fingers. The boat slows and silence once again descends amongst the group. You look expectantly but see nothing. It is like everyone is holding their breath, and then an audible whoosh and what sounds like a grunt– it’s a whale. Cheers and awes erupt at the realisation of a dream - 40 ton of humpback whale, right there beside the boat. Then whoosh another whale. Your breath is really taken away now.

Whale hunters coined the phrase ‘Thar she blows!’ on sighting this column of vapor as the whale exhaled. With each breath that we take we exchange probably 15% of the air in our lungs. A whale exchanges over 90% and they do that in a matter of seconds. They can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes and no wonder, they have lungs the size of the latest Mini Minor.