Fraser Island's western shores are on Hervey Bay where at the moment humpback whales are visiting on their annual migration from Antarctica.
The whales are present from around mid June to early September and then return back to the south cold waters to feed again.
The sheltered waters of Hervey Bay offer the perfect opportunity to observe this marine mammals from the kayak.
A previous trips to the bay has been very successful but last year's outing was not as good: we saw only one whale.
To increase the chance of whale encounters MEI has engineered a new revolutionary tool that attracts whales.
The iStick (TM).
In joint venture with Vanilla (he has been carving Aleut type paddles for some time now) we have come up with the ultimate whale watching paddle.
What? a paddle just for whale watching?... get out of here.
Well, I figured that whales are attracted to whale songs.
After some research I was able to find some recordings of whale songs on the net.
I downloaded the songs from http://www.oceanmammalinst.org/songs.html into my iPod.
The challenge was on how would I play the songs to the whales.
I was lucky to find some waterproof speakers from a local distributor (
http://cpc.farnell.com/1/1/46402-mini-waterproof-speaker-2w-8ohm-k50wp-2915-visaton.html ) and decided that I could play the songs while submersing the speakers into the water. Sound travels very well under water.
Suddenly I had this great idea: integrate the speakers into a paddle.
back side (non power face) of the iStick TM
Vanilla was able to help me out with my idea.
His paddles are made from easily carved wood (western red cedar) and would lend themselves perfectly to the modification.
A laminated version of the paddle had to be made to house the speaker wires.
I found a really good waterproof connector (http://nexinc.thomasnet.com/viewitems/all-categories/miniatures?&forward=1) that has been placed in the middle of the shaft to plug in my iPod.
The whole unit is pretty light and the weight increase from the speakers at the end of the paddle is not really noticeable.
The test paddle at Fraser Island went very well.
The paddle proved to be strong (as much as a standard Vanilla Aleut paddle) and there was only very small difference in paddle "noise" when entering the water (the speakers are on the back side of the paddle).
As far as attracting whales it proved successful.
We came across several pods and the whales seem to turn around and approach us rather close.
Since the iStick seem to be a success I have bothered applying for a patent.
If the patent application is successful (Pat. pending #6360693) I might consider commercial production.
testing the iStick TM