EPIC: Divers get magical close up with humpback
DIVERS were treated to a rare sight yesterday when a humpback whale passing through Cooloola Coast waters stopped metres from them as they descended underwater from a dive boat.
The juvenile male was captured on underwater camera as it curiously, but calmly investigated the four divers and one instructor who were descending to popular dive site Wolf Rock.
Often heard underwater or seen from the boat, Wolf Rock Dive co-owner Fiona Butler said yesterday's up close and personal encounter with the divers was rare.
"He literally just sat in front of them for a minute or so and had a good look before swimming off," Mrs Butler said.
"It was a really nice interaction - you hear them and think they're really close, but they're usually quite flighty.
"He was obviously interested," she said.
Mrs Butler believes the thousands of whales passing Cooloola Coast waters during their annual migration use Wolf Rock, made up of four volcanic pinnacles east of Double Island Point, to navigate the coastline.
"We think they use Wolf Rock as a navigating pinnacle to get up past Fraser Island because they want to stay in the deeper water," Mrs Butler said.
"We hear them a lot on the dive but it's the first time we've seen them this year."
The whales regularly migrate from Antarctic waters along the east coast of Australia every winter to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef to breed and calve.
This year is predicted to be a bumper season for whale sightings, with migration beginning earlier than usual.
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Wolf Rock is also a hot spot of activity for the critically endangered grey nurse shark, where up to 70 pregnant grey nurse sharks have been sighted at a time.
Mrs Butler said every day this month there have been at least 30-40 sharks sighted at a time.
Mrs Butler said surface conditions for diving can be calmer and clearer in winter.