When we’re talking about whales, we tend not to measure them in metres, or even feet and inches. In Britain, the usual unit of measurement is London buses; weight is measured in African elephants … an adult humpback whale weighs as much as eleven elephants.
On ‘Spirit of Migloo’ they have a better idea. The triangular sun-shade above the upper deck is about the size and shape of the tail of the average blue whale. ‘Migloo’ is the name of the only known white humpback whale, which was seen in Australian waters some time ago, and still appears from time to time … in the language of Australia’s indigenous people, it simply means ‘White One’
‘Spirit of Migloo’ is just one of the boats that set out from Queensland’s Gold Coast to take people out to see the whales. She’s a modern, luxurious catamaran fitted with the latest instrumentation.
‘But we don’t use radar or sonar’ they said ‘It would disturb the whales too much’
So, they rely on experience and know-how … and, probably, messages from a friendly helicopter pilot … to find them, and so confident are they that they offer a refund in the event of not seeing any. However, they do use audio equipment, so that passengers can hear the whale song.
The boat belongs to ‘Seaworld’, a marine theme park, and you can, if you wish, buy a deeply discounted combination ticket, which allows a cruise and entry to the park. Of course, there are some fairground rides here, and some ‘Disneyfication’ of even the marine-themed attractions. There probably has to be, to get people in and to raise money for their underlying purpose, marine conservation.
We were here to see the Southern Humpback Whale. Every Southern winter, that is, from June to November, they migrate along the eastern coast of Australia from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds further north, off the coast of tropical Queensland.
Only 20 minutes out, we saw plenty. I was expecting a series of splashes and spouts some distance away, but some of them even got close enough to the boat to enable some really good photos or video to be taken … IF you were quick enough.
That’s one of the advantages of digital photography. You can take a ‘machine gun’ approach which, admittedly, results in some shots of blank sea, These can easily be discarded, though in a way that wasn’t possible with film … unless you were VERY rich!
I wasn’t so lucky with the video, though; fortunately, my grand-daughter, Ellie, got some good footage I was able to use, and was kind enough to let me incorporate it into my video.
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