WHALE SHARK WONDER: Marine expert’s bold tourism idea
HERVEY Bay is world renowned for it large marine visitors but even the experts couldn't have predicted what Judy Green and Dan Gatt came across.
When the pair went boating on Saturday night, they encountered a whale shark in the waters off Rooney Point on Fraser Island, with the animal emerging from the depths.
Marine experts and tourism operators have commented saying the whale shark sighting was interesting and unusual.
Marine biologist Yvonne Miles said it was "fantastic to have a whale shark here," and was hopeful that the animals may provide a possible off-season tourist attraction before the humpback whales arrived.
Andrew Ellis of the Pacific Whale Foundation said, "at the moment, it is a one-off sighting" but it would be exciting if whale sharks became a regular occurrence.
Ms Miles said it wasn't the first time a whale shark had been spotted on the Fraser Coast with another animal spotted at Rooney Point a few years ago.
Ms Green said the animal was feeding on bait fish and accidentally knocked the pair's 40-ton boat.
She estimated the shark was roughly six to seven metres long
She said it was her first time seeing a whale shark and she didn't know the animals could be found in Fraser Coast waters.
Ms Miles said it was positive to see the Fraser Coast had the ocean resources to sustain the animal.
Doctor Wally Franklin of the Oceania Project said that it was "very interesting" for a whale shark to be spotted off the east coast of Fraser Island.