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Living near the Edge
27 August 2010
The wind is up today, blowing some 20 -25 knots from the southwest. There is a real nip in the air.
“It’s cold today,” whinges Annie. “It feels like Eden. I need some more layers.”
“Eden?” I scoff. “It is so cold out, that its almost 75 degrees. The high today in Eden is 61.”
I will grant there is a good chill in the air with the SW blowing, but I think the team is longing for the much warmer weather of Port Douglas. It is winter in Australia, but we are cruising right along the Tropic of Capricorn – how cold can it really be?
Thankfully the whales give us a break today, and seemingly demonstrate they too have had enough of the wind and the waves by resting in some pretty calm and ideal locales near Hook and Whitsunday Islands.
One of the most frequent asked questions I get asked is, “How close to shore can humpback whales come?” The answer is simple: “However close they want to.”
Since the Whitsunday Islands are continental islands, they rise quickly and steeply from the bottom of the sea. This means the water close to the shoreline is generally very deep, about 80 – 120 feet. There are some small beaches about, but even in these areas the water depth is about 15-25 feet before quickly giving way to the shore.
All this makes for perfect coves and bays for mother humpbacks with their newborn calves to find some respite from the churning seas to rest and relax.
This is precisely where we find a mother-calf pair resting -- some meters within the shoreline. The calf begins to roll about and appears to be trying to coax his mom away from the cozy shoreline. Mom is having no part of such nonsense and sinks.
We head offshore and find ourselves near Border Island and break for lunch. Shortly after lunch we encounter a mother, calf and escort near Dumbbell Island. They too are in no hurry leave their protected resting area.
It’s time for us to head for port. Needless to say, 101 nautical miles of exposure does take its toll and we end the day wind burned, wet, and yes, cold.