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The Worlds First Heritage Site

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Hervey Bay’s status as one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world is underlined by the region’s selection in October 2019 as the first Whale Heritage Site declared by the World Cetacean Alliance. Visitors who take tours with the Hervey Bay fleet can now be secure in the knowledge they are supporting sustainable whale watching practices judged amongst the best in the world.

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Accredited in 2019 as the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, Hervey Bay is recognised as one of the best places on the planet to see humpback whales up close, with a fleet of specially designed vessels offering eco-certified, intimate encounters during the annual season between July and November. Each year, thousands of east coast humpbacks break their migration journey from the Antarctic to the northern tropics in the calm, shallow waters off Hervey Bay in the lee of Fraser Island to rest, play and socialise.

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Hervey Bay is unique along Australia’s east coast as a whale stop-over and nearly three decades of scientific research reveal many of the same humpbacks return each year – staying for up to two weeks to rest and nurse their young calves. It is thought this recuperation time is essential for calves and younger humpback whales in preparing for the Southern Ocean and the serious predators they will encounter on their journey south.

The phenomenon of the “Hervey Bay whale nursery” makes whale watching in our waters most special. Many describe coming face to face for the first time with these graceful 40-tonne giants of the deep ocean as a spiritual experience. Here the whales are stationery and playful, and not migrating. Because they are so relaxed, the whales are just as interested in the whale watchers as the watchers are in them – sometimes spending up to an hour fin-slapping, spy-hopping and breaching close to boats.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ disabled_on=”off|off|on” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ min_height=”824px” custom_padding=”9px|||||”][et_pb_row disabled_on=”off|off|on” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”||4px|||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”|18px|0px|||”]

Accredited in 2019 as the world’s first Whale Heritage Site, Hervey Bay is recognised as one of the best places on the planet to see humpback whales up close, with a fleet of specially designed vessels offering eco-certified, intimate encounters during the annual season between July and November.

Each year, thousands of east coast humpbacks break their migration journey from the Antarctic to the northern tropics in the calm, shallow waters off Hervey Bay in the lee of Fraser Island to rest, play and socialise.

 

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Hervey Bay is unique along Australia’s east coast as a whale stop-over and nearly three decades of scientific research reveal many of the same humpbacks return each year – staying for up to two weeks to rest and nurse their young calves.

It is thought this recuperation time is essential for calves and younger humpback whales in preparing for the Southern Ocean and the serious predators they will encounter on their journey south.

The phenomenon of the “Hervey Bay whale nursery” makes whale watching in our waters most special. Many describe coming face to face for the first time with these graceful 40-tonne giants of the deep ocean as a spiritual experience.

Here the whales are stationery and playful, and not migrating. Because they are so relaxed, the whales are just as interested in the whale watchers as the watchers are in them – sometimes spending up to an hour fin-slapping, spy-hopping and breaching close to boats.

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The World’s First Whale Heritage Site

Hervey Bay’s status as one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world is underlined by the region’s selection in October 2019 as the first Whale Heritage Site declared by the World Cetacean Alliance. Hervey Bay pipped Durban in South Africa, which was the second site chosen, in a field of candidate sites, including Vancouver Island in Canada, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, Mosaic Jurubatiba, Brazil and Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Visitors who take tours with the Hervey Bay fleet can now be secure in the knowledge they are supporting sustainable whale watching practices judged amongst the best in the world. The World Heritage Site accreditation scheme for whale-watching destinations was initiated by the London-based World Cetacean Alliance in 2016, to recognise the best global destinations for responsible whale and dolphin watching.

 

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As well as ensuring respectful human-whale interactions, a Whale Heritage Site has to show active engagement by their communities and tourists with marine life through art, music, science, education and celebratory events.

What WHS recognition means to Hervey Bay is best summed up in the words of World Cetacean Alliance honorary president, Jean-Michel Cousteau, who said Whale Heritage Sites would become the gold standard for responsible whale watching destination worldwide “as they have so much more to offer, by interweaving natural and cultural elements and placing communities at their very heart” .

“These sites will become places where people respect, celebrate and protect cetaceans and their habitats long into the future.”

As well as amazing personal experiences on the water and through observing the various art pieces and sculptures paying tribute to the humpbacks, visitors can learn more about the these beautiful creatures at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere in Pialba, a centre dedicated to native flora and fauna in The Great Sandy Strait, including humpback whales. The Discovery Sphere features a 30-tonne statue of one of our region’s most beloved whales, Nala.

Whales are also celebrated annually during the month-long Hervey Bay Whale Festival, which features  events like the Blessing of the Fleet, the Whale Parade and Concert, and the Paddle Out for Whales.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″ z_index=”-1″][et_pb_image src=”https://www.visitfrasercoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Image-with-text-overlay-02.jpg” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ z_index=”-1″ width=”137.6%” min_height=”876px” custom_margin=”-45px|57px|6px|6px||” custom_padding=”|0px||0px||” scroll_horizontal_motion=”0|45|45|73|4|0|-4″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ disabled_on=”off|off|on” _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_row column_structure=”1_2,1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_image src=”https://www.visitfrasercoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Image-with-text-overlay-01.jpg” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_margin=”||30px||false|false”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”|||23px||”]

The World’s First Whale Heritage Site

Hervey Bay’s status as one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world is underlined by the region’s selection in October 2019 as the first Whale Heritage Site declared by the World Cetacean Alliance.

Hervey Bay pipped Durban in South Africa, which was the second site chosen, in a field of candidate sites, including Vancouver Island in Canada, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, Mosaic Jurubatiba, Brazil and Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Visitors who take tours with the Hervey Bay fleet can now be secure in the knowledge they are supporting sustainable whale watching practices judged amongst the best in the world.

The World Heritage Site accreditation scheme for whale-watching destinations was initiated by the London-based World Cetacean Alliance in 2016, to recognise the best global destinations for responsible whale and dolphin watching.

 

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row column_structure=”1_2,1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_image src=”https://www.visitfrasercoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Image-with-text-overlay-02.jpg” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_margin=”||30px||false|false”][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”|||23px||”]

As well as ensuring respectful human-whale interactions, a Whale Heritage Site has to show active engagement by their communities and tourists with marine life through art, music, science, education and celebratory events.

What WHS recognition means to Hervey Bay is best summed up in the words of World Cetacean Alliance honorary president, Jean-Michel Cousteau, who said Whale Heritage Sites would become the gold standard for responsible whale watching destination worldwide “as they have so much more to offer, by interweaving natural and cultural elements and placing communities at their very heart” .

“These sites will become places where people respect, celebrate and protect cetaceans and their habitats long into the future.”

As well as amazing personal experiences on the water and through observing the various art pieces and sculptures paying tribute to the humpbacks, visitors can learn more about the these beautiful creatures at the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere in Pialba, a centre dedicated to native flora and fauna in The Great Sandy Strait, including humpback whales. The Discovery Sphere features a 30-tonne statue of one of our region’s most beloved whales, Nala.

Whales are also celebrated annually during the month-long Hervey Bay Whale Festival, which features  events like the Blessing of the Fleet, the Whale Parade and Concert, and the Paddle Out for Whales.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ prev_background_color=”#ffffff” disabled_on=”on|on|off” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ background_color=”#efefef” custom_padding=”94px||103px|||” top_divider_style=”waves2″ top_divider_height=”56px”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”||0px|||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ text_font_size=”20px” text_line_height=”2em” header_font=”|700|||||||” header_text_color=”#0089cf” header_font_size=”35px” custom_margin=”||21px|||”]

Our friends love to show off

Each year we have the most gentle, stunning humpbacks that stop in and stay awhile here on the Fraser Coast. So we think it’s fitting that we show them off! With a new action-packed whale season starting soon, check out the photos below to see why your whale watching trip for 2020 should be right here in our backyard!

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When you visit, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and

#whalesherveybay and #visitfrasercoast

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_social_media_follow _builder_version=”4.4.3″ text_orientation=”center”][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”facebook” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ background_color=”#3b5998″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”]facebook[/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”instagram” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ background_color=”#ea2c59″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”]instagram[/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][et_pb_social_media_follow_network social_network=”youtube” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ background_color=”#a82400″ follow_button=”off” url_new_window=”on”]youtube[/et_pb_social_media_follow_network][/et_pb_social_media_follow][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ disabled_on=”off|off|on” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ background_color=”#efefef” custom_padding=”94px||103px|||” top_divider_height=”56px”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”||0px|||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ text_font_size=”20px” text_line_height=”2em” header_font=”|700|||||||” header_text_color=”#0089cf” header_font_size=”35px” custom_margin=”||21px|||”]

Our friends love to show off

Each year we have the most gentle, stunning humpbacks that stop in and stay awhile here on the Fraser Coast. So we think it’s fitting that we show them off! With a new action-packed whale season starting soon, check out the photos below to see why your whale watching trip for 2020 should be right here in our backyard!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row use_custom_gutter=”on” make_equal=”on” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ width=”100%” max_width=”1600px” module_alignment=”center” custom_margin=”0px|0px|0px|0px|false|false” custom_padding=”0px|0px|0px|0px|false|false”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_gallery gallery_ids=”7366,7365,7363,7237,7236,4072,3342,9675″ gallery_orderby=”rand” posts_number=”8″ show_title_and_caption=”off” show_pagination=”off” zoom_icon_color=”#ffffff” hover_overlay_color=”rgba(0,137,207,0.67)” hover_icon=”%%15%%” disabled_on=”off|off|on” module_class=”mfp-title” _builder_version=”4.4.3″ title_text_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0)” caption_text_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0)” pagination_text_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0)” custom_margin=”|||0px|false|false” custom_padding=”0px|||0px|false|false” custom_css_main_element=”.mfp-title {|| display: none;||}” custom_css_gallery_item_title=”||”][/et_pb_gallery][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.4.3″ custom_padding=”||0px|||”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.4.3″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.3″ text_font_size=”20px” text_line_height=”2em” header_font=”|700|||||||” header_text_color=”#0089cf” header_font_size=”23px” header_line_height=”1.3em” custom_margin=”||21px|||”]

When you visit, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and

#whalesherveybay and #visitfrasercoast

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Why we’re the best

The Hervey Bay whale fleet is the most professional and advanced in Australia, helped by its location in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Not only was Hervey Bay the first location in the country to offer commercial whale watching from boats, in 1986, but the industry was instrumental with the Queensland Government, conservation organisations and researchers in setting up the then Hervey Bay Marine Park in 1989, to protect the migrating humpback whales.

The cetacean population had diminished because of large-scale whaling and poor conservation practices and pioneer Hervey Bay whale watch operators were at the forefront of the recovery campaign, working with stakeholders to set up a sustainable code of conduct for whale-human interactions that has stood the test of 30 years of whale watching and been copied by other whale destinations around the globe.

Today’s Hervey Bay Fleet operates in the renamed Great Sandy Marine Park under strict regulations, aimed at ensuring the thousands of whales that come into Hervey Bay each year are protected – and that they keep coming back in greater numbers.

The Fraser Coast is identified as one of the most important destinations in Australia for migrating whales, because unlike all other areas of the coast it is a place where whales break their 10,000km migration journey between the tropics and Antarctica and return to rest for up to two weeks, supporting their young calves.

In 2019 this area, covering about 20 percent of the 6000 sq km Great Sandy Marine Park, in a line from Rooney Point to Burrum Heads and south to below Big Woody Island, was declared the world’s first Whale Heritage Site.

The marine park, including the new WHS designated area, is managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service under the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science. The marine area is part of the wider Great Sandy Biosphere, awarded reserve status by UNESCO ion 2009.

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Book yourself a Whale Watching tour from July – November

 

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The humpbacks migration route

The difference here is that the whales pause their migration journey when they reach Fraser Coast waters. Each year thousands of these 40-tonne mammals purposefully head to our marine backyard, breaking their journey from the breeding grounds in the tropics to the feeding grounds in Antarctica, to relax, play and socialise in the sheltered waters in the lee Fraser Island’s western coast. Here the waters are warmer, shallower and predator-free.

Twenty years of scientific research has proven that Hervey Bay is the only genuine stopover in what is one of the longest mammal migration journeys on the planet – a 10,000km round trip from the southern ocean to the tropics and back again.

In all other whale watching locations in the open ocean on Australia’s east coast, the whales are travelling either north or south – a difference which enables Hervey Bay operators to offer a premium whale watching experience.

 

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The humpbacks migration route

The difference here is that the whales pause their migration journey when they reach Fraser Coast waters. Each year thousands of these 40-tonne mammals purposefully head to our marine backyard, breaking their journey from the breeding grounds in the tropics to the feeding grounds in Antarctica, to relax, play and socialise in the sheltered waters in the lee Fraser Island’s western coast. Here the waters are warmer, shallower and predator-free.

Twenty years of scientific research has proven that Hervey Bay is the only genuine stopover in what is one of the longest mammal migration journeys on the planet – a 10,000km round trip from the southern ocean to the tropics and back again.

In all other whale watching locations in the open ocean on Australia’s east coast, the whales are travelling either north or south – a difference which enables Hervey Bay operators to offer a premium whale watching experience.

 

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Whale Fun Facts!

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One of Hervey Bay’s most well-studied and loved whales, Nala, is what researchers call a ‘tail-up feeder’. First spotted in the bay in 1992, Nala nurses her calves by resting vertically (most rest horizontally) in the water. She even has a statue dedicated to her at the Fraser Coast Bay Discovery Sphere.

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Hervey Bay, with its sheltered, shallow and calm waters at depths of only 20-25 meters, is the perfect place for humpbacks to get quality R & R before their long journey back to the southern feeding grounds in the Antarctic. Research has shown Hervey Bay is the place along the east coast of Australia where the whales deliberately choose to stopover.

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In 2017, Hervey Bay commenced its whale immersion (swim) program, one of few places in Australia where guests have the unique opportunity to get much closer to these gentle giants. With several whale fleet operators offering swim-with experiences in the right conditions, guests now have the chance to truly see eye-to-eye with humpback whales in their own ocean environment.

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Hervey Bay is most famous for humpbacks, but they are not the only whale species that frequent our waters. Southern right whales, minke and dwarf minke whales, pilot whales, melon-headed whales, sperm whales and even orcas have all been sighted in the area on occasion.

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The humpback nursery

The journey

Thousands of Humpback whales pass our coast each year during their annual 10,000km return journey from the feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the breeding grounds in tropical waters to our north – the longest mammal migration on earth.

Along the way Humpback mothers, pregnant during the previous season, give birth to calves and these juveniles often ride in the slipstream of their parent to keep pace. It is a constant journey, either north or south, depending on the time of the season. But there is one special place on Australia’s east coast where the whales stop to take a break – Hervey Bay.  It’s here in this nursery environment calves practise the incredible behaviours whale watchers yearn to see, from breaching, spy-hopping to tail slapping.

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A natural haven

Like homing pigeons, the whales head to the warm, shallow waters in the lee of K’gari Fraser Island, where humpback mums take the opportunity to feed and bond with their babies.  Underneath a whales’ tail or fluke is a distinct marking that, like a human fingerprint, enables each whale to be identified. It’s this discovery that has enabled scientists to prove many humpbacks return to Hervey Bay each year, staying for up to 10 days!

Milestones

The gestation period for a Humpback whale is on average 11 months and once born, calves are nursed until their first birthday. The little giants are already 5 metres long at birth and can weigh up to 2 tonnes, but they don’t stay that small for long! Drinking up to 600 litres of milk a day, calves gain weight rapidly.

The recovery

Eastern Australian Humpback whales were nearly wiped out by commercial whaling and while the population is recovering, this whale species is still at risk from a range of threats including entanglement, pollution, habitat degradation and vessel strikes.

Inspirational artwork

In 2019 for the World Whale Conference, Artists Cave Urban and the Fraser Coast community, created a stunning bamboo art piece that you can find at the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre. This eco-friendly creation aims to inspire change while protecting the cetacean habitat from ocean-destroying plastics.

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The humpback nursery

The journey:  Thousands of Humpback whales pass our coast each year during their annual 10,000km return journey from the feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the breeding grounds in tropical waters to our north – the longest mammal migration on earth.

Along the way Humpback mothers, pregnant during the previous season, give birth to calves and these juveniles often ride in the slipstream of their parent to keep pace. It is a constant journey, either north or south, depending on the time of the season. But there is one special place on Australia’s east coast where the whales stop to take a break – Hervey Bay.  It’s here in this nursery environment calves practise the incredible behaviours whale watchers yearn to see, from breaching, spy-hopping to tail slapping.

 

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A natural haven: Like homing pigeons, the whales head to the warm, shallow waters in the lee of K’gari Fraser Island, where humpback mums take the opportunity to feed and bond with their babies.  Underneath a whales’ tail or fluke is a distinct marking that, like a human fingerprint, enables each whale to be identified. It’s this discovery that has enabled scientists to prove many humpbacks return to Hervey Bay each year, staying for up to 10 days!

Milestones: The gestation period for a Humpback whale is on average 11 months and once born, calves are nursed until their first birthday. The little giants are already 5 metres long at birth and can weigh up to 2 tonnes, but they don’t stay that small for long! Drinking up to 600 litres of milk a day, calves gain weight rapidly.

 

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The recovery: Eastern Australian Humpback whales were nearly wiped out by commercial whaling and while the population is recovering, this whale species is still at risk from a range of threats including entanglement, pollution, habitat degradation and vessel strikes.

Inspirational artwork: In 2019 for the World Whale Conference, Artists Cave Urban and the Fraser Coast community, created a stunning bamboo art piece that you can find at the Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre. This eco-friendly creation aims to inspire change while protecting the cetacean habitat from ocean-destroying plastics.

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Our Nature Stories

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