Hervey Bay, Gentle Giants by JOSH HEDGE

It was a true miracle to have had the opportunity to spend a week sailing along Fraser Island and Hervey Bay with the Humpback Whales. A spot opened up for me a week before leaving and it was something I simply couldn’t say no to. I have always been an admirer of all animals throughout my life but I think everyone has a special sweet spot when it comes to Whales. Being lucky enough to live in Byron Bay I’m able to watch these magical beings migrate each year from the shoreline and often at times when they come up close to us in the surf, but I never in my wildest dreams imagined the connections that are able to be made with them when you’re sailing just off the coast.

The thing that sticks out to me the most is how curious they are of people, not once did we have to ‘seek’ an experience so to speak, as the Whales simply made their way over to us if they felt like it, they almost reminded me of puppies in their characteristics of playfulness and innocence. Especially when they roll over and expose their giant belly to you, I feel like that is a sign of pure trust.

I was in complete awe of them on the very first pod that came to us, as one came right up to me and let me touch his mouth and it is a connection I have never experienced before in my life and in my head I thought “woah this first day was an absolute dream come true” and that perhaps from that day onwards for the rest of the experience it may have simmered down so to speak, but it continually just got more magical. To me, being immersed in Nature with no phones, surrounded by the abundance of beauty this world has to offer and connecting with the marine life such as Humpback whales is what life is truly about, the pinnacle of being alive.

To me, there was something incredible about the Whales being underwater like this. They would move so effortlessly and everything would just be silent while we watched, like time stood still.

They would often come right up to us like this and expose their belly and follow it up with a complete roll, then finish with a giant blow of air / water out of the lungs

When I first looked at this image it reminded me of an oil painting, I love all the blues working together and the ripple of the water on the bottom left, mysterious contrasts

Almost all of the Whales would come up and do this spy-hop which is there way of peeking up and actually looking at what is going on with their big, wide and beautiful eyes

This image is almost one of my favourite photos I have ever taken, I can’t stop looking at it. There is just something about it that always draws me in. I love the hand placement as it seems like its resting right on the Whale, and the Whale itself is the heart of the Sea.

I couldn’t think of any better way to finished off a day of sailing and admiring the whales then by going for a sunset swim, chatting with beautiful people and having the smell and warmth of a fire run through my bones.

From the very first moment I witnessed a Whales tale up close I instantly thought of a mermaid and that never left my way of thinking.

A big mum who had just swam under the boat and popped up to give us all a friendly surprise

Mother whale with her little baby swimming away after having a play with us, swimming so gracefully and peacefully along the waters

For more of Josh’s images and journey’s click HERE

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