Couple Uncovers Humpback Secrets

What started as a "short" 10-year project for amateur whale-watchers Trish and Wally Franklin has become a life's work – and one of the most comprehensive studies of humpback whales ever undertaken.

The wind fills the sails of the Anna Kristina and the 100-year-old ship flies across the warm waters of Hervey Bay, timbers groaning, chasing the pods.

As they approach, Wally Franklin furls the sails, slowing the Kristina to a gentle glide. The mother whale and her calf watch with silent curiosity as the vessel settles alongside them.

Then Wally gently mimics their movements from behind the wheel, until the whales forget they are there.

Only then does Trish Franklin lean over the side and whisper to them. “You’re beautiful,” she says. Then she takes her photos. Hundreds and hundreds of photos, her camera clicking over and over again.

These photos – there are now half a million of them, taken over 30 years by two people who started this research project with little formal training in marine biology – form one of the most comprehensive databases of whale identity, movement and behaviour in existence.

Using them, Trish and Wally were able to uncover the secret of Hervey Bay. They think this place might have helped save the southern humpback whale.

To read more about this incredible couple's 30 year study and see Trish's wonderful photos click here