WHALE OF A TIME: Surprise visit wows Whitsunday skippers
IT WAS a whale of a time for a Whitsunday skipper and deckhand who were blessed with an opportunity to say hello to one of the Earth's largest animals today - months earlier than expected.
Red Cat Adventures skipper, Mark Huston, said he was "in awe" when his crew spied a whale calf while they traversed the Whitsunday islands.
Spotted northeast of Whitsunday Island, the crew were very lucky to spot the majestic creature who normally wouldn't make its migrational trip from Antarctica until about July.
Mr Huston said his deckhand, Fiona McTavish, was also a master reef guide and able to identify the calf was a humpback whale.
"We were out water quality testing for James Cook University and we never expected to see a whale while out there," he said.
"This one was just a little calf, we hung around to see whether we could spot its mother but she didn't come to say hello.
"It doesn't matter how many times you see a whale. They're simply amazing, they get you every time."
Mr Huston said it wasn't uncommon to see whales around late-July to August and was ecstatic to get to spy one earlier in the year.
"It's not every trip, but especially in August a whale sighting becomes more frequent," he said.
"We were screaming and jumping for joy when we saw it.
"There's actually a lot of marine life around the islands at the moment.
"We spotted several pods of dolphins, a lot of sea turtles and of course the whale.
"Today really showed some of the amazing things you can see in the waters of the Whitsundays."
Humpback whales can grow up to roughly 20m in length, weigh up to 45 tonnes, and live on average for 50 years.
The protected and calm waters around the Whitsundays are an ideal nursery for mothers to birth and rear their calves.