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The Oceania Project's
Whale Research Expeditions
in Hervey Bay: 1989-2013


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Humpback Whale Study Area in Hervey Bay


Hervey Bay is formed by Fraser Island and mainland Australia and is located off the south-east coast of Queensland, about 300 km north of the states capital, Brisbane.

Fraser Island is just below the Great Barrier Reef and extends in a north easterly direction away from the coastline of Australia. It's northern end almost reaches the edge of the continental shelf.

On their northwards migration during June and July the humpback whales travel along the eastern side of Fraser Island, rounding Great Sandy spit and heading northeast towards the calm warm waters of the southern and central regions of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Humpback Whales begin moving south from the Great Barrier Reef region in mid-July traveling southward along the Great Barrier Reef Islands. This route provides the opportunity for a large proportion of eastern Australian humpback whales direct access to Hervey Bay, which offers a natural haven before they begin the long trek to Antarctica.

Map of Study Area

Satellite image of Hervey Bay showing great Sandy Spit and the first of the Barrier Reef Islands to the northeast of the Bay.

Map of Study Area within Hervey Bay

The study area within Hervey Bay is approximately 20 nautical miles long and 15 nautical miles wide.

Map thanks to Greg Luker Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing Laboratory, School of Environmental Science & Management, Southern Cross University


Departing from Urangan Boat Harbour we travel north-east towards the ancient beaches of Fraser Island, following them north until we navigate the southern shallows into the lower reaches of Hervey Bay.

It takes around two hours travelling to the Study Area where we can expect to find humpback whales and dolphins.

Subject to weather and operating conditions we remain in the northeast region of Hervey Bay to observe and study the humpbacks for 5 nights / 6 days each week, anchoring at night along the western side of Fraser Island.


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