Hervey Bay, the whale watch capital of the world, over the weekend held the third annual Paddle Out for Whales. Australia's largest anti-whaling protest as part of IFAW's National Whale Day. Even the poor weather didn't deter participants getting in the water and making a stand against whaling.
Despite the weather yesterday (officially the coldest day on record for the year so far), the Paddle Out for Whales 2012 was a great success! We had a sensational turn out despite the fact that it was absolutely freezing cold on the beach and in the water.
Bob Irwin and Hayley Bateup, our event ambassadors, did a sensational job opening the day and had a great time themselves. We took all of the volunteers and event crew for a sunset sail on the Friday night before the paddle out to get to know each other and kick back before the manic day. It was lots of fun! Saw lots of dolphins and turtles from Blue Dolphin Marine Tours who kindly donated the trip for the event.
We had people moved to tears on the beach as they watched on at the stunt. We had the sounds of Hervey Bay's humpbacks playing through the loudspeaker as the paddlers took to the water followed by a very moving one minute silence as we waited for the helicopter to do a fly over. We released 267 flowers into the water representing the whales slaughtered last hunting season and it was quite moving watching them all wash into shore.
The paddlers that came back into shore after the stunt were buzzing with excitement. Everyone commented about the experience saying that it was exhilarating waiting for the helicopter to fly over and that the one minute silence was highly emotive.
We noticed this year that "word of mouth" really was out there, with people coming from all around Australia to take part. The awareness about the event is spreading to more than just the local community. Really restores our faith that the support for the cause is out there and there is strong support towards putting an end to whaling.
We had to cancel some of the outdoor entertainment due to the weather which was unfortunate but ended up moving the bands and movie screening inside and had a lovely little acoustic evening toasty warm inside Enzo's on the Beach. The Flumes, Mitch Davis and the Dawn Chorus, The Green Room and Ollie Jackson did a great job entertaining us well into the night. A huge thanks to the guys from those bands who drove up in the rain to be part of the event and donating their time for the whales.
A huge shout out to Enzo and the crew from Enzo's on the Beach for hosting the event this year. They were seriously wonderful and donated so much of their time and services to us this year. Couldn't have pulled it off without them and we're going to bottle Enzo's passion for everyone next year!
A BIG thank you to all of our volunteers, performers and paddlers for taking part in the 2012 event. Everything to put on the event is a donated service for the whales and we were so happy to see the support in 2012. The date for the 2013 Paddle Out for Whales has been set for June 22nd. Mark it in your diaries and prepare to paddle out for whales in the new year!