2nd August 2017
Tourism Tropical North Queensland director Wendy Morris was lucky enough to experience a close encounter with a little-known dwarf minke whale during a snorkelling expedition off Port Douglas. The tourism leader even managed to snap photographic proof of her encounter with the gentle giant which visited her tour boat on a local reef.
Ms Morris said the whales were becoming more confident with their interactions with visitors to the reef, with four groups of the baleen whales visiting the tour boat. Having been exploring the reef for more than 45 years, Ms Morris said it was marvellous to see how whale numbers had increased over time.
Having founded the Reef Biosearch, Ms Morris said that the whales were becoming more inquisitive with their interactions with humans and that the minke and humpback whales were dropping calves, making whale watching one of the most popular Port Douglas attractions.
Queensland is the only place in the world where you can interact with the lesser-known minke whales and Ribbon Reef in Tropical North Queensland is the best place to get up close and personal with these majestic gentle giants. Minke whales appear for a short but sweet visit to the reef every winter and only remain in the waters off Port Douglas for a few months each year.
There are a few day vessels departing Port Douglas that are permitted to swim with the whales including Silver Sonic, Calypso and Poseidon. The friendly giants are at the centre of a research collaboration between James Cook University and local tourism operators. Visitors can directly contribute to ongoing minke whale research and conservation through behaviour and photo identification.
To ensure human interaction with the whales is sustainable, straight guidelines apply to swimming with the whales. Their annual journey through the Great Barrier Reef and Port Douglas is important not just for local tourism, but also for the whales, and so it continues in harmony.