“WHALE!” was the only word Alex Cunningham could muster when he spotted the great ocean beauties cruising just metres away.
The OzSail employee was on board Spank Me, working on deck in the Whitsunday islands on Monday afternoon when he spotted not one, but two humpback whales swimming alongside the boat.
Craig Falkenmire was below the deck at the time and raced up when he heard Mr Cunningham’s call.
“We thought they (the whales) were going to hit the anchor chain because they were so close,” Mr Falkenmire said.
“I was very surprised to see them so early (in the season).”
The whales, which Mr Cunningham said were close to 17m long, headed towards Whitehaven where visitors on the beach got to catch a glimpse.
“It was really exciting to get to see them up close,” he said.
Their visit was only short lived, as they disappeared shortly after leaving the boat.
But this hasn’t been the only whale sighting to date, with Luke Griffiths of Renegade Fishing Charters also spotting two whales on Friday.
Mr Griffiths said he was close to Square Reef when he saw the gentle giants.
“I just looked over at the water and saw (one) just sitting there,” he said.
“I thought it might have been an upturned boat at first, then went over and had a look to find two adult (whales).”
Mr Griffiths said the whales were fully grown and about the size of a large truck.
Going out on the water at least 330 days of the year, he said this wasn’t the first time he’d seen a whale in the wild.
“But I wasn’t expecting to see them this early – maybe in a few weeks,” he said.
During the Whitsunday whale season of May to September, boats and people must not approach within 300m of a whale inside the Whale Protection Area and 100m outside this.
For more information visit http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/.
SOURCE: WHITSUNDAY TIMES