Having a whale of a time in the Marine Park
Migaloo's first appearance in northern waters has prompted the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to remind boaties to be on the look out for whales.
The albino humpback whale was spotted off Cairns over the weekend, as part of humpbacks" annual migration to the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
GBRMPA Project Officer in the Species Conservation Unit Sarah Salmon said it was important for boaties and onlookers to take care around whales.
"Whales are beautiful animals but also very large, so people need to go slow, watch out for these majestic animals and adhere to approach distances when boating in the Marine Park,” Ms Salmon said.
Ms Salmon said with humpback whale populations increasing at about 10 per cent each year boaties were now more likely to encounter whales when on the water between May and September.
“You are most likely to encounter either minke whales in the Cairns region or humpback whales reef-wide,” Ms Salmon said.
“While whales can be social animals and may approach boats or people in the water, it is important for both the whales and your own safety that you do not approach them. An adult humpback whale is between 12 to 15 metres long and can weigh up to 40 tonnes.”
If in the vicinity of whales, vessels must stay at least 100 metres away from the animal and 300 metres away in the Whitsunday Whale Protection Area. In all areas jet skis must stay at least 300 metres away from the animal.
All whale species are protected in Australian waters.
There are a number of simple practices you should follow when boating in the Marine Park during whale season:
- Be alert and watch for whales at all times
- Keep a lookout and avoid disturbance to mother whales and their calves, especially from May to September
- Reduce your vessel speed to minimise the risk of collision in areas where whales have been sighted
- Abide by approach restrictions
- Be quiet when you are around a whale
- Do not get in the water if you see a whale - if you are already in the water do not disturb, chase or block the path of a whale and if possible, return to your vessel
- If there is a sudden change in whale behaviour, move away immediately
- Report sick, injured, stranded or dead whales to the EPA Hotline 1300 130 372.