Legend of Hervey Bay whale watching industry dies
THE death of Brian Perry, a pioneer of Hervey Bay's whale watching industry, is being mourned by the community.
Alongside his wife Jill, Brian built the industry from the ground up after the former fishing charter operator and his wife saw a potential tourism opportunity in visiting humpback whales and seized it.
For 30 years, the couple nurtured an industry that would end up giving employment to hundreds of people across the region.
Their long-time friend Andrew Ellis said it was a tragic day for the Fraser Coast.
"It is a terrible thing for his family, for his friends, for our industry," he said.
It is understood Brian died after battling illness.
Andrew, the Pacific Whale Foundation operations manager, said he had memories of the couple from 30 years ago, when he first joined the whale watching industry.
"They were such a massive part of the industry, innovators of the industry," he said.
Running a fishing charter before devoting his time to whale watching, Brian's entire life was about being on the water.
It was a passion he shared with his wife and their daughter, Sarah.
Andrew said the Perrys made him proud to be part of the industry.
Brian had been a big part of forming a code of conduct regarding the treatment of the whales and management of the industry, now considered best practice across the world, Andrew said.
The well being of the humpback whales was always at the forefront of his mind.
"If you don't look after the whales, we don't have an industry," Andrew said.
The industry they helped build is now worth an estimated $90 million per year for the region's economy.
The Perrys retired in 2017, selling their business to their friend, John Peaker.