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Dancing with Whales

Josh Hedge comes face to face with Humpback whales in Hervey Bay

All images © Josh Hedge

Opportunities knock on our door, and if we are open to taking them, they glide on in with the breeze and gift us with experiences that we never thought imaginable.

With just one week’s notice, jumped at the opportunity to go sailing in Hervey Bay to greet numerous humpback whales on their 2,500km journey away from the dramatic ice caps in Antarctica, to the South Pacific.

As an avid animal lover, I have always admired whales and being blessed to live in Byron Bay, I have been able to watch them swim up and then down the coast each year during their migration cycle. At times while surfing, they would make their way to just outside the line-up to give us a close encounter of their sheer size (they can be as large as 40 tonnes) and their powerful energetic presence.

These experiences filled me with wonder. Little did I know that one day I would find myself looking eye to eye with a whale in Hervey Bay.

The very second I boarded the catamaran, I knew something special was about to unfold. The first day of sailing, we were bombarded by curious pods of humpbacks. They danced with us along the coast of Fraser Island and while I was sitting on the steps at the back of the boat one let me rub my hand along his mouth, something I never in my wildest dreams thought would happen.

My whole perspective on whales shifted the more time I spent with these majestic creatures during the week. I realized that these beings aren’t just another marine species living in our oceans, they are some of the wisest, most aware and intellectual marine mammals on Earth. As I listened to their soothing songs that echo over 30 kilometers, I could feel the magic inside of me as I drifted off to sleep each night in the boat’s cabin. On nights when I would sleep out on the front deck under a full moon with the ocean rocking me to sleep, I felt an overwhelming sense of just how precious this Earth is.

Whale populations have been increasing over recent decades thanks to stricter management and controls over commercial whaling, and that is something worth celebrating. All too often we hear of the negative impact that human beings have had on wildlife and the natural world, so it is refreshing to know that we can turn the wheel from destruction and separation to love and unity.

I couldn’t think of anything more I wanted from life during my time in Hervey Bay. Sitting around the fire at sunset, waking up to the calm sounds of the ocean and listening as the whales breached and slapped their fins. Connecting with other human beings on the same wavelength, sharing the space together from dusk till dawn with endless amounts of happiness as well as tears as we remembered how life should be. There is an enriching, beautiful world that is there waiting for human beings to connect with, and that to me is the most comforting thing I could know.