GALLERY: Watch as mother humpback saves her ‘lifeless’ calf
AT FIRST, it looked like they were witnessing a tragedy.
The lifeless body of a humpback whale floated near its mother, who was trying desperately to keep it from being washed toward the shore by the waves.
As Gayle Kee and her partner Trevor John watched, however, a miraculous fight for life unfolded before their eyes.
Gayle and Trevor witnessed the birth of the whale while flying over the waters off Hervey Bay near Fraser Island in their ultralight plane this week.
Gayle said she cried and Trevor had tears in his eyes as they watched the mother fight for the life of her calf.
Its lifeless body floated near her and she lifted it out of the water to keep it from sinking, while also keeping it from being dragged towards the shore.
"Trevor noticed the whale first," Gayle said.
"It looked like it was sleeping, then we realised she was giving birth.
"We kept circling - we are allowed to fly at 1000 feet above them.
"Thankfully I had the good camera, I usually rely on my iPhone.
"We watched the lifeless little creature floating towards the beach and watched the mother's protective natural instincts kicking in."
Gayle said the whole time, the mother was trying to turn her calf and lift it out of the water to stop it from sinking.
"We spent about 10 minutes circling," she said, as the couple hoped to see a happy ending.
"All of a sudden we saw the tail flick, a little bit of movement, then mum let out an almighty spray."
The couple witnessed the calf's first breath as it started moving.
"It was surreal," Gayle said.
Aside from the birth of her own three children, it ranked among the most precious moments of her life, Gayle said.
"I don't think anything could ever compare."
The couple moved to Hervey Bay in December and have quickly fallen in love.
They are now members of the Isis Flying Club.
The couple are renovating a child care centre in Hervey Bay.
They regularly fly over the waters of Hervey Bay and have taken hundreds of photos of humpbacks on their annual migration.
Gayle said she couldn't wait to go on a whale watching trip to see the humpbacks up close.