For most people a day spent on a whale watching vessel a brand new experience. What to expect and what to bring? And then there is always the fear of getting seasick. These days your chemist can recommend a variety. of medicines that will overcome this worry, from non drowsy tablets, patches behind your ears to pressure-bands around your wrists. All of these are helpful, but most tablets must be taken at least eight hours prior to departing. A good suggestion is to talk to your chemist a day before. And it also depends on what food you have had for dinner and breakfast that morning.
Worrying about seasickness should not stop you from going, simply be prepared.
Most important of course is the weather, but the waters of Hervey Bay are very well sheltered by Fraser Island and actual "swell" is uncommon, except in a strong Northerly, in which case most tours are cancelled.
"What is the best day to go whale watching?" This question is asked by every body and impossible to answer.
The first two weeks of August: Generally cool conditions on the water, around 22 degrees, S.E. winds, clear and sunny, little chance of a shower. Mainly adults whales in the Bay and being the beginning of the season, excellent viewing opportunities from vessels, generally not carrying full capacity of passengers.
Similar conditions, plenty of whales, mainly adults and a few sub-adults. Also a chance to see the white Humpback whale, as it came into the Bay on 29 August 1993.
Generally slightly warmer, some of the early "this year's" calves as well as adults and juveniles. Also the school holidays and the busiest time of the season.
Much warmer around the 26 degrees, plenty of mother-calf pods often accompanied by an "escort". A chance of having trips cancelled due to unfavourable weather, but again great viewing opportunities due to less passengers on each vessel, playful and inquisitive calves, right up to the end of the season.
Bring a jumper and a raincoat (if rain is forecasted). Remember slip, slap, slop, as the sun can spoil your holidays. A hat and sunscreen is a must. And a camera, of course. And a smile.
You're going to see the fifth largest animal that ever lived on this planet. In the wild, not in a cage to perform at a certain time. You'll see Humpback whales in their natural environment and you will not be disappointed.
So you're now on your way and soon the skipper or one of the crew will tell you all about the whales, you're about to see. You will travel past Moon Point and Coongull creek and now you are in whale "country".
Firstly you look for the blow, where the whales breathes out the massive amount of dry air in their lungs at a speed of 400 km per hour! This appears as a puff of crystals, when looking into the sun or a rain cloud away from the sun. You're also looking for a black dorsal fin, maybe the reflection of the sun of the whale's body, a tail or the breach.
To "spot" your first whale is not easy and generally the crew will see them well before you do. Naturally they are more experienced, but by the end of the day, you'll do much better.
At first you may find a little difficulty "tracking" the whale, its speed and direction, but soon you'll get used to this as well. Hervey Bay is a most unusual place and possibly the best in the world for whale watching, as the animals are not traveling. They may swim in any direction, alongside or towards the vessel for a closer look at you. They will show their enormous tail as they dive or lay on their side as they "pec-slap".
The crew will explain those and other behaviour patterns and one of the most exciting moments is, when two pods meet `and the whales begin to chase each other. An "affiliation", as this is known amongst the skippers. Again operators are not sure, why there are these wilder behaviour patterns amongst some of the pods of visiting Humpbacks.
It is possible that Humpback whales do not arrive into the Bay in single pods. Often reports on the radio, that "another pulse" has arrived, indicate that there are pods traveling together, perhaps with one as a leader. This may explain the boisterous behaviour of some whales of different pods. Could it be that younger animals are training to eventually "take on" the leader, similar to kangaroos? More questions yet to be answered.
Meanwhile the crew will scan the horizon for other pods. No one can tell what will happen each day and each day is different. Who can predict how whales will behave on any particular day, this is the beauty of whale watching. That's why people keep coming back to Hervey Bay, just like the Humpback whales. And that's why Whale Watching is an Experience of a Lifetime.