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Whale talks add depth to Ocean Festival events

Whale and dolphin conservation and the value of eco-tourism will be the key themes as USC presents a series of free public talks in association with the Hervey Bay Ocean Festival.

USC has partnered with Fraser Coast Tourism and Events to present the 10-day Ocean Festival, which promotes the conservation of the region’s rich and diverse marine environment and wildlife.

At the Festival’s Blessing of the Fleet tomorrow (Saturday 12 August) USC Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Event Management Dr Vikki Schaffer will discuss the importance of conservation, collaboration and cooperation in developing sustainable whale tourism.

Dr Schaffer said whales and dolphins played a vital role in the health of aquatic ecosystems, and had inherent economic value.

“A holistic approach to visitor engagement incorporating interpretation and education is needed to raise awareness and action for conservation, increase our scientific understanding and generate broad socio-economic benefits,” she said.

On Sunday 20 August, former Olympic kayaker and USC lecturer Dr Gayle Mayes will join other environmental speakers at the Festival’s Paddle Out for Whales event.

Dr Mayes, who represented Australia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and has won world championships in marathon kayaking and outrigger canoeing, is a Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Event Management and Sports Marketing at USC.

With a special research interest in marine and wildlife tourism, she will discuss the impacts of getting up close and personal to whales and dolphins.

USC students and staff will join with hundreds of others to paddle out into the water off Scarness Beach for a minute’s silence to recognise the importance of protecting the world’s whales and oceans as part of the event.

USC will also provide a free sunscreen and water station for those attending.

On Wednesday 23 August, USC will host a free public lecture at its Fraser Coast campus by Australian whale watching pioneers Brian and Jill Perry.

The Hervey Bay couple established Australia’s first commercial whale watching and will provide valuable insights into the industry as they discuss 30 years of whale watching tourism.

Students and community members are invited to the presentation from 11am-11.45am at USC Fraser Coast, Old Maryborough Road, Pialba. To register, email frasercoast@usc.edu.au.

— Clare McKay 

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