Whales make their return to Moreton Bay

Published 8:00am 7 June 2024

Whales make their return to Moreton Bay
Words by Kylie Knight

Brisbane Whale Watching’s Captain Kerry Lopez is expecting an exceptional season this year, with more whales on the ‘humpback highway’ and a major upgrade to her vessel Eye Spy complete.

The season starts on June 8 and runs until the first weekend in November.

Kerry is expecting 45,000 whales to make their way up and down the coast this season as part of their northern and southern migration.

It will be about a 10-12 per cent increase on last year.

“It’s really good because that’s been a consistent increase every year. We thought that they may stabilise because of the food source, but what the scientists are saying is that they’re actually feeding off other sources of food – a lot more baitfish. They’re adapting,” she says.

For the past two months, Eye Spy has also been adapting, with major work to install four new motors and two new gearboxes, which are more environmentally friendly and will produce lower emissions.

“It’s a newer, greener boat. It was a massive job. We had to cut the side of the hull open and we had to get a big crane to pull the old engines out. They were 4.5tonne, just the engines alone,” Kerry explains.

“We upgraded all of the fire pumps and upgraded the whole boat in her belly, really.”

The upgrade was one year ‘in the making’ and has cost ‘a couple of million dollars’.

“It guarantees the service and it guarantees that she’s going to be safe and sound. It will be good for the guests as well. Our return clientele will see the difference,” Kerry says.

“When we’re up and running, she’s a lot faster than what she was and uses a lot less fuel.”

Whales make their return to Moreton Bay

Essential upgrade

Ensuring Eye Spy has a low impact on the environment and the whales is important to Kerry.

“It will be interesting to see how the whales are around Eye Spy with the different noises,” she says.

They know the sound of the boat and, she believes, they know the sound of her voice.

“I get so excited. You never get sick of it. They’re just clowns, they’re just the clowns of the ocean and they just make you smile and they make you laugh. They bring so much joy to everybody,” she says.

“It would be great if we could see Migaloo. Nobody knows whether or not he’s still with us. It’s quite likely that he has passed away because the average lifespan of a humpback is around 50 years. He would be around 49 years old.

“There’s Migaloo Junior as well and I have observed that whale, so we’re hoping we’ll see him.”

Kerry is looking forward to also seeing whales she regards as old friends such as Maggie, Razorback, Stitches and Billy.

“I just think we’re going to have an exceptional season. Now that there’s so many whales, what we do in the tour is we have time now just to go in to where all the turtles are. We’re actually observing all the marine life – the turtles and the dolphins,” she says.

All of her crew are returning, some have been continuing to upskill in the off-season.

“They’re so passionate about their job, making sure everybody has a lovely day,” Kerry says.

The re-powered vessel will be put to work all year round, with events, functions and tours planned beyond the whale watching season.

Brisbane Whale Watching departs Redcliffe Jetty seven days a week during the whale watching season, offering a 100 per cent guarantee of whale sightings.

To find out more, visit brisbanewhalewatching.com.au

Whales make their return to Moreton Bay
Image: VAUGHAN JONES

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