As whale watching tour operator of True Blue, at Merimbula Marina, Simon Millar could hardly have imagined what would happen at the start of the Far South Coast season.
Mr Millar had already seen plenty of whales during the northern migration but this could hardly have prepared him for the massive pods of whales he and customers on True Blue were about to see as the season opened at Merimbula on Saturday, September 12.
Mr Millar was gearing up for a season of reduced numbers and COVID safe operations.
"We've got reduced passenger capacity, we're a COVID safe business and we have a plan as per the government health regulations," Mr Millar said last week.
"It's going to be quite different because the border is shut and there's no international visitors," he said.
He said it had been a bumper year in Sydney and was hoping to see similar on the Far South Coast.
He didn't need to worry because as the season kicked off the whales came in to play in huge numbers.
"What a way to start the 2020 Merimbula Whale Watching Season! We had the unforgettable experience of being surrounded by more than 100 feeding adult humpback whales! The energy, the sounds, the smell and the visual of seeing so many whales was quite mind blowing. At times it was hard to know in which direction to look," he said in a social media post on Saturday evening.
On Sunday True Blue reported "even more whales sighted feeding" as they took customers out again.
"Again the raw energy was palpable and it was hard to know where to look. We are feeling very blessed to have been able to witness such an incredible natural wonder. Who knows how long they will stay on the Sapphire Coast but it is a timely reminder of how important it is to look after our oceans. They are home to so many wonderful and majestic animals," Mr Millar said.
"This is the year to get out and experience heaps of whales. There's not so many people, more room on the boat; this is the year to do it," he said.
He is hoping that local people will take advantage of lower numbers on the boat due to COVID restrictions to enjoy the spectacle.
Mr Millar said that despite the issues with the Merimbula bar True Blue can always operate. He said departure times could be slightly different each day as they work with the tide charts to sort out the best times.