Extra 2000 whales expected to pass through Bay this year
ABOUT 2000 more humpback whales are expected to travel through Hervey Bay this year, with a high number of tourists predicted to follow thanks to the low Aussie dollar.
Last year, an estimated 20,000 humpback whales visited the Fraser Coast on their migration - and experts say that number may rise to 22,000 this season.
Whale numbers have been increasing 10% every year since the 1960s, thanks largely to the end of whaling and new species protections, according to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
Owner and operator of Whalesong cruises Jason Brigden hoped tourist figures would rise in line with whale numbers.
"For the last few years because of the currency it's not been good for us because people couldn't afford it," he said.
"But this year because our dollar is so low there'll be more people who can afford to travel to Hervey Bay and watch the whales."
Mr Brigden welcomed the increasing numbers of whales and said he hoped for warmer weather this winter to ensure they stuck around.
"Last year, we had such an unseasonably long winter and their movements are based on water temperatures," he said.
"They came early last year and unfortunately left early too, but some years I've gone through to November 8, but so far even though the amount of whales is getting better, they're not staying any longer.
"I can't predict how long it'll go for, but I'm hoping it should go through to the beginning of November."
Whale season in Hervey Bay is expected to start mid July and will continue until late October, depending on water temperature and migration patterns.