BREACHING: A humpback whale jumps out of Hervey Bay's water in front of the Whalesong cruise boat.
BREACHING: A humpback whale jumps out of Hervey Bay's water in front of the Whalesong cruise boat.

Whales are on the way

EXTRAVAGANT tail-slapping displays and breathtaking breaches through the water are the "tell-tail" signs Queensland's whale tourism industry has been waiting for.

The whales no doubt have been waiting too for their winter holidays, when about 20,000 of them migrate to the Great Barrier Reef to party.

After spending summer feeding in the icy Antarctic, they are headed to warmer waters to mate, calve and socialise, according to a tale-telling Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority spokesman.

Thousands more travel to the west coast, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, the authority's field operations manager Mark Read said.

He reminded whale-watching enthusiasts and visitors to keep a safe distance for the safety of whales and onlookers.

"These giants of the deep never cease to amaze, even for people like whale researchers or tourism operators who are lucky enough to interact with them each year," Dr Read said.

"But given the growth in recreational vessel registrations and the popularity of commercial whale watching, it's becoming increasingly important for people to abide by approach distances.

"The number of humpback whales is growing annually by 10 to 11 per cent.

"And if you run into a 15-metre, 40 tonne whale, it's likely your boat will come off second-best, and the whale could also be injured."

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