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Whale Watching

Top/favourite whale encounters #4

Here we go – bucket list time!

#4 My first time swimming with the whales! (August 2019)

Swimmers in the water with a humpback whale

Did you know you can swim the whales right here in Australia? There are a few operators on both the east and west coasts that run whale swim tours, so you don’t even need to leave the country (or, in my case, state)! There are rules about how/when to enter the water or how many people are in the water at once, but if you follow the rules you can have one of the most breathtaking experiences. EVER.

My whale swim last year was with Tasman Venture in mid-August up in Hervey Bay. Doing the whale swim in Hervey Bay was AMAZING. Shallow, sheltered waters, it’s not totally freezing (and most operators will provide a wetsuit anyway)… and the whales are RIGHT THERE! The whales were really chill, just kept gliding slowly around or under the boat. I dunno, probably wondering why on earth the two-legged animals were making such a fuss. 😂

On your marks… get set…

Two humpback whales at close range
“Oh HI THERE!”

We had two whales near us that day. We sussed them out a bit before the crew would let us hop in. I hate to say it, but I almost didn’t get in the water. 🙈 SEZ, WHAT THE HELL, DUDE. I can absolutely, 100% without a doubt tell you, having now done the swim, I would be kicking my own ass for the next bazillion years if I’d missed that chance.

You know what’s stupid? It wasn’t even because of a fear of the whales. That’s always everyone’s first question when I say I’ve swum with whales. “Weren’t you frightened?! They’re so massive!”, “God, I would have been so scared!” Uhhh… why?

Humpback whales are beautiful, gentle, inquisitive creatures who are, granted, very large compared to us. BUT they also know their size/mass – honestly, so spatially aware it’s crazy. The whole time we were in the water they never made any big/sudden/flashy movements. They barely moved their fins half the time – just kept gliding by and checking us out while we lost our minds with excitement.

No, my dilly-dallying about hopping in was… I don’t even know what it was. All these RIDICULOUS excuses kept popping into my head. “You’ll get cold.” “You’ll be cold AND wet when you get out.” “You’re too big.” “This will never work.” Et cetera and so on. 🙄 ARGH. SO stupid. I am incredibly glad I just told myself to shut the hell up and get in the damn water because if I had deprived myself of such a special encounter… 😑

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

A swimmers holds onto a mermaid line in the water with the shadow of a humpback whale underneath
No, this is not me in the photo
(I’m taking the photo)

Being around whales is always incredible but actually being in the water with them is… unlike anything else. All you have to do is hold onto the mermaid line beside the boat… and just FLOAT there and wait for them to come to you. AND THEY DO! They’re just as curious about us as we are about them. I had tears in my eyes and a ginormous smile on my face when they came close. Hell, I have tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face now just thinking about it!

At one point I was lying flat in the water looking down and there was a whale directly below me. He started to raise straight up towards me, head first, and I was like “He knows I’m here, right?” 😂 DUH. At what felt like the last second – but probably wasn’t even close to that – he slowly started to drift forwards and moved in front of me before he turned his head to eyeball me. SO. FREAKING. COOL. I feel giddy now just recounting it!!

Underwater photo of a humpback whale
“He knows I’m here, right?”

Honestly, bottom line, we are extremely lucky to be able to interact with these guys considering they were on the edge of extinction only a few short decades ago.

If you have a chance this season to get on a boat and go whale watching, do it. And if you have the opportunity to go for a whale swim, ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY DO IT. You won’t regret it. 💙🐋

Massive thank you to Tasman Venture, Captain Millie and the crew of Island Venture for such an incredible encounter last year. ❤️

Right, hit the comments and tell me your bucket list story! What was on your list that you’ve been able to tick off? What’s STILL on the list?

Underwater photo of a humpback whale
Apologies for the quality – this is actually a still from video shot on my iPhone

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