WHALING activist Dean Jefferys has returned home from a five-month, 3500km South Pacific odyssey, aboard the boat that will become the centrepiece of his latest whale conservation campaign.
The 52-year-old from Byron Bay sailed the 13.7m ketch Migaloo 2 – named after the white whale first spotted off Byron Bay in 1991 – into Brunswick Heads yesterday, where family and friends greeted him.
Mr Jefferys’s journey began in American Samoa and took in Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
The highlight was an extended stay at a whale swimming retreat in Tonga, where he swam with a mother humpback whale who wanted to show off her newborn baby.
“The mother pushed the baby right up to me. It was only a metre or so away. She circled three times, then it looked like she winked at me.
“It was incredibly special. If some influential Japanese people could get in the water and have that same experience they would just turn into emissaries for the whale. You just couldn’t kill something after having that experience.”
Now that he has the Migaloo 2 home, Mr Jefferys is planning to use it as a platform to raise awareness about whales, dolphins and ocean health.
From June he will follow this year’s humpback whale migration along the east coast of Australia and create a ‘whale channel’ – streaming footage live on the internet.
Musicians, politicians, ecologists and celebrities will be also invited on board.
“It’s so the whole world, including the Japanese, can see what amazing beings the whales and dolphins are,” he said.
Mr Jefferys has made a documentary of his South Pacific adventure, which he will screen in the open air at the Brunswick boat harbour on Saturday, February 5, at 8pm.
He will also hold an open day on the Migaloo 2 on February 5, from midday.