Whale of a battle

Blainey Woodham

BATTLE lines have been drawn in the whale watching industry after an operator proclaimed that the Tweed and southern Gold Coast were the best locations on the east coast to watch whales.

Hervey Bay was a Mecca for whale watching enthusiasts and was considered by the locals to be the best whale watching location on the east coast of Australia

But Coolangatta Whale Watch operator Tony Hunt disputes that claim.

"All it came down to is promotion. It was just a tourism thing," Mr Hunt said.

"We are expecting 17,000 whales compared to 14,000 last year. These are just estimates.

"Down here (Tweed) we have almost overtaken Hervey Bay for crowd numbers.

"There is just so much interest in whales at the moment."

Hervey Bay Whale Watch's Jill Perry said the bay was the best location to see whales because about 500 individuals would stop in the calm waters off Hervey Bay to rest.

"They come to rest here and play," Ms Perry said.

Ms Perry said some individual whales would spend two to six weeks around Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay Whale Watching was one of the pioneering companies for whale watching having operated for 26 years.

Mr Hunt said that Coolangatta was fortunate because the whales passed close to the coast.

"When they come back with their calves they hug the coastline," he said.

"I have seen whales just beyond the surf line."

Mr Hunt said on one occasion the boat had to avoid a whale that was right at the river mouth.

Topics:  migaloo tourism whale watching

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