NORTH STradbroke Island is home to the best place on the east coast of Australia to view humpback whales, and Point Lookout is arguably the best land-based location for watching the mammals in the world, according to marine research scientist, Dr Michael Noad.
Michael heads the team of researchers that conduct the population surveys of the east Australian humpback whale population.
The count is conducted from Point Lookout every few years, with the last one done in 2010.
The first was held in the early 1980s. About 80 per cent of the humpback whale population that migrate to breed in the Great Barrier Reef travel within five kilometres of the Point Lookout headland.
The current humpback whale population is about 20,000, which Michael describes as a remarkable recovery since the population was very seriously impacted by whaling.
Paid staff and volunteers conduct the count from 7am to 5pm daily for eight weeks.
They count in shifts of six people on duty at any time from a platform erected by the Redland City Council which provides the ideal location above the trees.
The researchers use surveyors' theodolites to track the whales. They look at how far the whales are offshore and how fast they are travelling, document the size of the group, and note the whales' behaviour. They also count dolphins.
Humpback whales migrate north to tropical waters around June and July, and return south to their Antarctic feeding areas in September and October.
"Between now and November the whales are off Point Lookout," Michael says.
"It's a great time to come out. If you are in the park at the Point Lookout headland or on the Gorge Walk, you have a very good chance of seeing the whales."
Marine biologist Dr Olaf Meynecke also describes Point Lookout as an amazing vantage point for whale watching, with the Gorge Walk providing an extensive overview out towards the ocean enabling visitors to see the whales engage in surface activities such as breaches, tale slapping and pectoral slaps.
There are various aspects of socialisation under way, according to Olaf. This may include males competing with one another in preparation for breeding further up north, as well as interaction between mothers and yearlings, or last year's calves.