They definitely want to play. And they don’t want to leave. For over an hour they frolic around us. Sometimes lying sideways, flukes in the air, they seem to be waving. “He’s giving us a high five,” says my son, Alex. At other times the giant black ‘T’ of their massive tails appears as they dive into the depths. Then we know we’re in for a good show because minutes later they race to the surface and explode out of the water in front of us breaching mast-high towards the sky.
“He’s looking straight at me, Mum, and his eye is the size of a soccer ball,” says Alex. “Actually he’s the size of a WHOLE SOCCER PITCH.” My son is prone to exaggeration in his more excitable moments. Nevertheless, I admit that this close up, the young whales do look large – length-wise they’d give our 11-metre yacht a run for its money.
We are so close to the whales we can see every line on their skin, every bumpy barnacle on their impressive heads. Yet it is not the size of them that is the most awe-inspiring thing; it is the sheer joy they bring. “This is the coolest thing EVER,” says my son, eyes shining.
According to Darryl these are adolescent whales and like any teenager they like to have fun, so it may not be a coincidence that they splash my son with a haze of water as they roll over beside us. “Hey,” he says grinning, “they did that on purpose.” Eventually, a larger, more mature whale appears. If I had to guess I’d say it had come over to get the youngsters back in line because soon after they all turn and head towards the open sea.
We go the other way, back towards Runaway Bay Marina but there is one more treat in store, a huge pod of dolphins close to shore. Soon we are surrounded by at least 30 or more riding our bow wave and coming up right under the yacht. “Mum, I know that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says my son when we’re back on dry land, “But wouldn’t it be great to do it all again?”
The final verdict? “Even better than the Dreamworld roller coaster.” Praise indeed.