Environment SA News

Keep a safe distance from whales

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is reminding people that during whale migration season, it is important to respect these mammals and keep a safe distance – for your sake and theirs.

Keep a safe distance from whales
Whale migration season is underway and the Department for Environment is reminding people that it’s important to respect these mammals and keep a safe distance.

DEW Marine Parks Manager Chris Thomas said to help protect whales in South Australian waters, approach restrictions are in place.

“Under the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammal) Regulations 2010, there are restrictions on vessels approaching within 100 metres of whales and 300 metres of whale calves.

“In more sensitive areas in Encounter Bay and Head of Bight, additional restrictions apply.

“While it is amazing to see these mammals in their natural habitat, it is important not to disturb them, particularly if they are feeding or nursing their young.

“People should also be aware that a whale breeching can be a sign that the animal is distressed, and there is a risk that distressed animals can stop nursing, or even abandon their young.

“If a whale emerges close to your vessel, it’s important to slow down and come to a stop until the animal moves away. It is illegal to intentionally follow a whale within the approach restrictions required under the regulations.”

Whales which are disturbed may alter their migration paths and become displaced from important habitats used for resting, breeding, calving or feeding.

That’s why there are regulations stipulating safe approach distances for boats, jet skis and drones.

Anyone who wishes to operate a drone or vessel close to a marine mammal must apply for a permit from DEW.