During the winter months of June and July, the dwarf minke whales make their annual pilgrimage north followed by the humpback whales, which can be found in large numbers in late July right through to September as they migrant to the warmer waters of the North to rear their young.
Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer Tara Bennett said the Great Barrier Reef was the only place on earth where you could truly swim and snorkel with dwarf minke whales.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with dwarf minke whales. They have a grace that is beguiling to their size and are naturally inquisitive by nature. If one is lucky they will even approach boats, snorkellers and divers in the water,” she said.
Up to 200 dwarf minke whales have been seen on the Great Barrier Reef during a season and as their name suggests, they are relatively small, approximately two metres long when born and growing up to around seven metres.
Ms Bennett said visitors had one of the best chances of viewing these curious mammals out of Port Douglas with locally based reef tour operators Silversonic, Poseidon and Calypso holding Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority issued permits allowing people to swim with the minkes if the opportunity was there.
“These operators offer the chance for an up close encounter, however, there are still plenty of opportunities to spot whales on the Great Barrier Reef. We are starting to hear reports now of daily sightings from most of our reef operators,” she said.
Media and business manager for the Quicksilver Group Megan Bell said swimming with minke whales has been voted Queensland’s top secret and Australia’s third best kept secret in a recent travel poll.
Recent sights have been off Agincourt Reef.
“A minke whale encounter is incredibly special, with only about 300 people each season having the privilege.
“Swimming with them is always a bonus and our permit allows our guests to hold onto a rope at the back of the vessel, where they can float and wait for the minkes to come to them.
“The Great Barrier Reef is amazing and seeing minke or humpback whales just adds to the overall experience.”