“We are so excited,” Sunreef Whale Encounter supervisor Dan Hart said. “The team is already out doing trials and training ready for the start of the season – it’s such an awesome experience we just can’t wait to start sharing it with people again this year.”

Sunreef were the first operators in the country to offer the chance to swim with whales. The company plans to run the experience every year from July to October.

“The whales are starting to appear regularly now in waters off the Sunshine Coast, but July is when the real action kicks off, with thousands anticipated to swim and play through the Sunshine Coast waters,” said Hart.

Once a whale is viewed, the boat will be put into neutral 100m or more away from the whale, and if the conditions are agreed safe by the team, the engine will be turned off and swimmers allowed into the water holding on to the floating line attached to the boat. “In our experience, the whales seem as intrigued by us as we are by them and often come close to swimmers, gliding effortlessly around us, with such a gentleness that it’s like they recognise our fragility in comparison and know we are there out of wonder and respect,” said Hart.