South Australia’s whale watching season has officially commenced with the first sighting of a humpback whale reported in Fleurieu Peninsula waters last week.
Between May and October each year whales can be found in large numbers along Far West Coast Marine Park at Head of Bight, Encounter Marine Park at Victor Harbor as well as off the coast along both the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas. The Coorong coast is also an important whale migratory pathway.
Regional Coordinator Marine Parks Jon Emmett said the annual migration of whales to South Australian waters occurs during the cooler months, which is when they mate, give birth and nurse their young.
“Whale-watching is a fantastic nature-based experience, about many thousands of people take part in this activity each year in South Australia,” Jon said.
“You can enjoy watching these magnificent whales breaching, body-rolling and tail-slapping from on-shore viewing platforms at both the Head of Bight and Victor Harbor areas, or by booking a boat tour with a private tour operator.
“Most whale sightings in South Australian waters are either southern right whales or humpback whales.”
Jon said in order to help protect the whales in South Australian waters there are approach limits in place.
“Vessels must not approach marine mammals closer than 100 metres. Where whale calves are present and in more sensitive areas in Encounter Bay, vessels should not approach within 300 metres. Head of Bight is a Restricted Access Zone, meaning that vessels are not allowed in the area” Jon said.
“Drones are becoming more popular with whale watchers, however operators must not fly their drone within 300 metres of a whale. Expiation fees apply if people do not adhere to these limits.”
For more information check out the SA Whale Centre website at www.sawhalecentre.com.au. For whale-watching tips read the department’s Good Living blog.
Boat stickers are available advising the approach limits for marine mammals. To obtain a sticker please send an email with your name and postal address to: DEWMarine@sa.gov.au