Environment SA News

Whale season has watchers in a blubbering mess

Grab your binoculars because whale watching season is back, with the first sighting of a humpback whale off the coast of Victor Harbor on the weekend.

Whale season has watchers in a blubbering mess

Between May and October each year whales can be found along Encounter Marine Park at Victor Harbor, Far West Coast Marine Park at Head of Bight, as well as off the coast of both the Eyre and Yorke peninsulas.

The Coorong coast is also an important whale migratory pathway.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Regional Coordinator Marine Parks Jon Emmett said the annual whale migration 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, with thousands of people taking part in this activity each year in South Australia,” Mr Emmett said.

“You may get to see whales breaching, body-rolling and tail-lobbing from on-shore viewing platforms at both the Head of Bight and Victor Harbor areas. You can even book a boat tour with a private tour operator.

“Most whale sightings in South Australian waters are either southern right whales or humpback whales.

“To help protect the whales in South Australian waters there are approach limits in place, which is important for all boaties to be aware of.

“Generally vessels must not approach closer than 100 metres, but 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, so no vessels are allowed. Drone 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 visit the SA Whale Centre website. 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