Have you seen whales off the coast of Bargara, Innes Park and Coral Cove?
Have you seen whales off the coast of Bargara, Innes Park and Coral Cove? Nicole Shipp

Thar they blow!

WHALES have been putting on a show off the coast in recent weeks with experts saying the sightings are expected to increase.

Andrew Ellis, Hervey Bay's visitor services co-ordinator, said the sightings of humpback pods off the regions coastline was quite normal for this time of year but were definitely becoming more frequent.

"Especially in the month ahead as new mothers bring their newborns to Hervey Bay in order to fatten the calf up in the coming weeks prior to heading for the summer feeding for adults in the southern ocean," Mr Ellis said.

"Each year sightings will increase as the population is growing at about 11% annually which bodes well for more and more sightings."

Mr Ellis said the reason the whales were visible from land was because the mother-and-calf pods typically stay close to the coast on their southward migration.

"In order to stay in the shallower and therefore warmer water to assist the calves," Mr Ellis said.

"This shallow behaviour is also to attempt to defeat the killer whales who hang out for the annual calf picnic lunch.

Mr Ellis said orcas needed cooler, deeper water to survive.

"Therefore mum humpback will try to stay in the warmer more shallow water to avoid them," Mr Ellis said.

"Mother and calf pods will continue south after fattening up in Hervey Bay, staying as close to the shore as they can all the way down as far as Eden in Southern NSW where they then pretty much go the direct route to the Antarctic region."

Bundaberg Councillor Greg Barnes said the whales were certainly causing a buzz in the community.

"I have received numerous enquiries and reports regarding sightings of whales off the coast of Bargara, Coral Coast and Innes Park," Cr Barnes said.

Cr Barnes agreed with Mr Ellis about the growth and attributed it to conservation methods.

"Absolutely. As the whale population grows and whales feel more secure in their safety, we are seeing larger numbers coming closer to the shore," he said.

"Conservation of whales has been extremely successful and we've seen humpback whales making a comeback.

"Together with the strong presence of turtles and dugongs, this increase in whale numbers helps to position the Wide Bay region as a unique eco-tourism destination."

Cr Barnes said it was great news for the whales and the Bundaberg economy.

"Our eco-tourism experience can be enjoyed by families at minimal cost and with the Land Musgrave Island Experience now in operation and departing the Bundaberg Port Marina daily," he said.

"This experience is even more accessible to locals and visitors alike."



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