The months of June and July in Australia are a time when some of the world’s most magnficient marine animals emerge from the Great Barrier Reef off Tropical North Queensland.
If you head to Queensland over the British summertime, you can swim with tiger sharks and giant turtles. But perhaps the most intelligent and charismatic of the marine animals you can see are the dwarf minke whales – among the smallest species of whale in the world, growing to around eight metres long.
A pod of dwarf minke whales is about 60 to 80 playful mammals. This is an astonishing sight whoever you are and National Geographic has listed this marine encounter as one of their top 50 tours of a lifetime. There is nowhere else in the world where you are as likely to see the migratory dwarf minke whales, whose movements are largely unknown.
Dr Matt Curnock from James Cook University explains, ‘Where they go, no one yet knows. They seem to love the northern waters of the Coral Sea for just a few weeks every year and then simply disappear. No one has yet tagged them so they simply disappear off our radar.’
Indeed, dwarf minke whales were first spotted at the Great Barrier Reef as recently as in the mid-1980s.
The dwarf minke whale is a naturally curious animal, and the vast pods will often swim alongside ships and snorkellers, hoping for a better view. This makes them the perfect subject for a face-to-face aquatic encounter.