Paddlers protest whaling practices
THE heartfelt Fraser Coast protest against whaling created reverberations that will impact a worldwide audience, after hundreds of activists took to the water for the annual Paddle Out 4 Whales.
Women, children, mums, dads, grandparents and those in-between, ventured aboard kayaks and boats into the ocean in what was a symbolic display of humanity, sharing a minute's silence.
Event organisers Amanda French and Vicki Neville were joined by the likes of Bob Irwin and ironwoman Hayley Bateup, who together with the other activists released a flower for each of the 267 whales killed by Japanese in the name of research during 2012.
With a chopper flying at low altitude above the peaceful protest, the like-minded group then raised oars towards the sky and collectively cheered for the huge mammals.
Ms Neville, who stayed close to her son throughout proceedings, said an emotional message was sent to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) about how people in the Fraser Coast feel about whaling.
"Every year the IWC meets to discuss whaling issues and regulations, so as part of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who hold this day nationally...(information on the protests) is sent over with some conservationists we know who attend the meeting," Ms Neville said.
"So yeah, our message definitely travels and lets the IWC know how important whales are to Australian people and that they still need protecting and that we want to see the hunting finished."
In total, and despite cold weather, 543 people registered to take part in the protest, which was slightly down on last year's efforts.
But Ms Neville said there were many in the water braving conditions that failed to record their names on the official list.
She said one new addition to proceedings that proved fashionable with audiences was a helicopter that hovered overhead during the event.
"The helicopter just brought the most amazing feeling out there, it was flying real low, it was awesome they did an amazing job.
"In the past two years we've had (Skydivers Hervey Bay) in a fixed plane but the helicopter was great... everyone's been commenting on how excellent it was.
"It was really emotional paddling out because we play the whale song so the whale noises are going then we have a minute's silence and then having the helicopter just added another level of emotion to that" Ms Neville said.
Enzo Andreuzzi, owner of new hosting venue for Paddle Out 4 Whales, Enzo's on the Beach in Hervey Bay, said he was honoured to be involved in such a significant occasion.
"It was a fantastic event and we look forward to hosting it again next year - we have already set a date on June 22," Mr Andreuzzi said.