Humpback bursts skyward in front of stunned Port Macquarie whale watchers
The Port Macquarie whale watching boat was a few kilometres off the coast when the show began. (Supplied: Jodie Lowe)
A humpback whale has breached just metres from a small boat on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, drenching the amazed passengers on board.
The spectacular display was captured on video by one of the passengers onboard the Port Macquarie-based whale watching boat on the weekend.
Deckhand and photographer, Jodie Lowe, was at the front of the boat when the whale burst out of the water and, once in the air, actually rolled towards the boat.
“I was standing there taking photos and when I saw the whale come up in my viewfinder I started clicking and then realised how close it was,” she said.
“I can’t describe what it was like, it was just amazing, definitely once in a lifetime.
“People were surprised, shocked, excited, all these different emotions were going through on the boat at the time.”
Jodie Lowe said she “just started clicking” when the humpback suddenly filled her viewfinder. (Supplied: Jodie Lowe)
The whale watch operator, Anthony Heeney, said they were about 3 kilometres off the coast of Port Macquarie and tracking along with a pod of about five whales when the adolescent male made the unexpected breach.
“It breached towards the boat, it rolled towards the boat, so all the water came over us, it was amazing, I’ve never seen a whale breach that close before,” he said.
Mr Heeney said the whale was a similar length to the boat, but a whole lot heavier.
“The whale was probably about the same size as the boat, we’re 10.5 metres and about 5 tonne, I’d say that whale was the same length as us but about 10 or 15 tonne,” he said.
“They are fully aware of where they are and their size, this was just a young whale, an adolescent, and he was just having a bit of fun.”
Whale interactions not unusual
Mr Heeney said it was not unusual for whales to come close to boats, as they are curious creatures and often do interact with people.
He said he did not feel unsafe despite the proximity of the huge creature, because whales have a keen sense of where they are in the water.
“We’ve had them close before when they have interacted and come over and swum under the boat and spy hopped beside us,” he said.
Anthony Heeney and Jodie Lowe said they were amazed, and soaked, when the whale breached. (ABC News: Emma Siossian)
“We’ve even had one rest itself on the edge of the boat at one stage.
“You can’t control what they do, they come over to you if they want to, they then swim around and do some people-spotting, which is really good.”
Mr Heeney said it had been a great whale watching season so far and it was encouraging to see increasing numbers of humpbacks.
“We have a lot of whales coming in nice and close,” he said.
“At the moment I think numbers are up as the whale population is up to about 30,000 on the east coast now, so definitely there are more coming through,” he said.