We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
14 posts
39 reviews
Save Topic
We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

We just got back from a highly recommended terrific 5 day 4 night liveaboard with EYE TO EYE MARINE ENCOUNTERS. This dedicated and passionate group of environmentalists led by world renowned John Rumney run these Dwarf Minke Whale research-expeditions only 2 months a year, June-July (the season when the dwarf minkes come to the Great Barrier Reef). I believe they have 2 more trips this 2013 season. They have a special permit to run these trips and abide by strict interaction guidelines. The trip included flights from Cairns to Lizard Island, 4 nights on the boat, all meals and all interaction with the Dwarf Minke whales. In between, there was diving and snorkeling. We had 2 days of whale interaction, totaling about 15 hours of swimming with these gentle giants, and assisted in the research and photo data collection of Dr Alistair Baird, the lead scientist on board. I am posting this so that more people become aware of this special phenomenon and be able to join John, Linda, Alistair and their team. They are a truly special and wonderful group and deserve to be supported in their research and conservation efforts.

South Pacific
Destination Expert
for Hobart, Tasmania
Level Contributor
26,541 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

So, as a tourist, you had 15 hours of "interaction" with whales in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park?

It's a bit late today, but I'll take it up with GBRMPA tomorrow. :)

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
14 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

Luigi I understand you may have concerns about the 15 hour interaction with whales.

Allow me to explain further and rest assured, the whales' well being were the foremost concern of the team and everyone onboard.

We had 2 days of interaction roughly 6-7 hours per day. I have to make it clear that we did not chase the whales. We were moored in a site and waited for them to come. The first day, no whales came. On the second and third day, they came on their own as they were probably curious about us. The boat did not do anything to attract them - no whale calls, putting krill in the water etc nothing. Again, the whales came to us on their own - the boat did not approach them. We also did not go out and swim after them! 2 lines are tied to the front and back of the boat and we had to swim to these lines and space ourselves about 8 feet apart and hang on to it. We were not allowed to swim towards the whales nor touch them, we just drifted on the line until the whales came to us and they did. Only 6 to 8 people were allowed on each line. The whales stayed with us, sometimes they left. Later on there would be no sightings for 20 minutes or so, then a new whale would arrive, sometimes alone, sometimes with a group. Dr Baird stayed with them almost the whole time recording their markings and behaviour. While we had to get out of the water, take our lunch, rest, and still the whales were out there swimming around the boat. Before the interactions, we were all given proper briefings and clear strict instructions on how to behave with the whales. If there is any organization that cares for these whales, it is Eye to Eye Marine Encounters and The Minke Whale project. I hope I gave some clarity to this post and alleviated some of your concerns.

Cairns
1 post
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

I too have just come back from this absolutely incredible experience. I cannot recommend it more highly to any one as one of the most unique and special wildlife experiences available in the world. It was an absolute privilege that the whales chose to spend so much time with us as we enjoyed some wonderfully close encounters, watched them glide through the water, heard them communiate with each other and display behaviours that are a rare joy to watch. Very little is known about these animals and, in fact, the Mike Whale Project is almost entirely funded by tourists and enthusiasts like ourselves who chose to put their time and money towards this cause and experience. It is a truly unique experience and I'm sure that all of those on board each trip will remember it for life. As joyful_sun has indicated, there are very few permits available to swim with these magnificent animals, and the encounters are strictly guided by Codes of Practice that can be easily found on the GBRMPA website who are very familiar with Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, the Minke Whale project and have worked very closely with all involved, in particular the Rumney family and Dr Alistair Birtles, and our entire trip was very well organised including 'training' on the code of practice (as well as requests to help with the research project with our photos, videos and notes of our personal experience). I actually want to thank Luigi for his concerns - it is great to hear that there are people who would find some posts concerning and raise the appropriate flags as I am sure (or, hope) that came from a concern for misconduct in the Great Barrier Reef or with marine mammals, However, I also want to reassure that this operation is 100% above board. I encourage all to learn more about this fascinating project, to read the Code of Conduct for swimming with whales in the GBR (if you by chance come across this amazingly curious creatures who may, of their own will, approach your boat during these months) to minimise potentially damaging human impact on their lives, and to sign up to donate to the Project or, if you're lucky enough, get yourself on a trip! You will NOT regret this experience that is so very well organised, supported by the GBRMPA and whose aim is not only to conduct important research on this little-known species of marine mammal, but also to give a life changing experience to those who chose to be a part of it (and MANY come back for more each year) which in itself only serves to fuel a passion to protect and preserve not only whales and marine mammals but our beautiful Barrer Reef.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
5 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

I did a trip with eye to eye in 2011 and could not agree more with the above comments. Conservation and research are of the highest priority for this organization and without their dedication we would know far less about this beautiful species of whales. I cannot more highly recommend them and the minke whale experience. We hope to get to do it all again in the future.

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
12,608 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

It sounds amazing. I am very jealous.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
14 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

Thank you Linda T and Travelleroo for putting in your positive experiences as well. Nozzie you should try to go next year. I do have to correct myself that the dedicated researcher-scientist onboard is DR ALISTAIR BIRTLES and not Alistair Baird. Sorry about that.

East Sussex
Level Contributor
10 posts
420 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

We have just returned from week 3 of this amazing trip and all I can do is endorse the other positive comments. We had an extraordinary week, seeing over 50 different whales, and I hope we have helped Alistair's research by submitting our 400 minke photos.

8. Re: We Swam with Dwarf Minke Whales in the Great Barrier Reef!!!

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 1:17 am, July 07, 2014