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News Source: Sunshine Coast Daily (25th June 2007)
by Peter Gardiner
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TO understand the driving force behind Australia Zoo's new conservation resource - Steve's Whale One - you have to revisit the past.

The zoo's whale encounters will be launched this morning by Terri Irwin at Mooloolaba on board the 130-seat Whale One.

The purpose-built vessel was named by Bindi and Bob Irwin in honour of their father, who died last year making another of his world famous wildlife documentaries.

Thanks to the Sunshine Coast Daily and Australia Zoo, 10 families will win a sneak preview of Steve's Whale One, lunch on board and family passes to see the whales later in the season.

The bid to raise whale awareness comes at the start of a season where the giant humpbacks have never been more vulnerable with Japan intending to harpoon 50 for scientific research.

To the late Steve Irwin, whaling was the most horrific sight he had ever seen. 

The Crocodile Hunter once told American television host Larry King how whaling personally affected him.

"They run them down with their ships, with a gunner up the front," Steve told an American audience of millions.

"And believe me, when you’re being hunted, you - the fear you feel - like I've got goose bumps, mate, because it just drives me nuts.

"The fear of being hunted is a fear that I hope most people never every face. This is a humpback whale, an endangered species." 

Steve's Whale One will carry on Steve's passion for conserving these gentle giants which head up our coastline each year to give birth in our warmer waters. 

"We hope this trip will make people fall in love with whales so much that they become fully-fledged supporters of whale conservation," Australia Zoo marketing manager Natalie Hodgskin said. 

On board, Steve's Whale One offers 360 degree views from the observation deck while the underwater hydrophones will play the amazing whale songs.

As well, an onboard biologist will explain to onlookers about their behaviours and just what drives these ultimate southern tourists to make the epic journey each year.

Whale encounter celebrations will start at Mooloolaba from 9am today with the launch at 10am.

Kids can enjoy a massive treasure hunt and have their faces painted as well as get up close with some of the zoo animals.

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