24 August 2005

Whale of a time for diving group

A GROUP of divers had the experience of a lifetime last week when they swam with whales off Townsville.

The three divers were on a dive trip with Remote Area Dive and were anchored off the southern edge of Pelorous Island when they first spotted the 25m humpbacks.

Although it is common for whales to pass through this area during winter, it is highly unusual for them to venture so close to divers.

Two of the group were scuba diving with an instructor and one was snorkelling when they first heard the distinctive call.

"You know what it is. You can hear them (whales) but you generally don't see them," managing director Craig Rendall said.

The two whales became inquisitive and swam closer to the boat, eventually stopping only 20m from the group.

Meanwhile, the Townsville Marine Advisory Committee is advising boaties to be on the lookout for whales as they continue to enjoy the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Committee member Steve McGuire said humpback whales had recently been spotted between Magnetic Island and Townsville and off Horseshoe Bay.

"While whales can be social animals and may approach boats or people in the water, it is important for both whales and your own safety that you do not approach them," Mr McGuire said.

"An adult humpback whale is between 12 and 15m long and can weigh up to 40 tonne."

Source: townsvillebulletin.news.com.au


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