Whale watching

For the latest whale sightings along South Australia’s coast visit the Whale Centre website.

The migration of the southern right whale brings breathtaking beauty and sheer power to our majestic South Australian coastline every year.

The whales visit between June and early October as they move into the warmer waters off the South Australian coast to calve. While our whale visitors are mostly southern right whales, we also have sightings of sperm whales, humpbacks, blue whales and the occasional orca.

Whales visit the length of South Australia’s coastline, providing a whale watching paradise with an endless choice of scenery. Two of our marine parks have whale watching facilities:

  • In the Far West Coast Marine Park at the Head of the Bight, you will find special whale watching platforms along the cliffs. It is a spectacular location to view these wonderful marine mammals.
  • On the Fleurieu Peninsula, you’ll find whale watching facilities at Victor Harbor and Basham's Beach. Southern right whales come to the Encounter Marine Park to calve in the protected waters of Encounter Bay.

Keeping your distance

Maintaining the legal distance from marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals is important, both for our safety and that of the animals.

The animals may be seriously injured if they are struck by a vessel or frightened young may become separated from their mothers. Even if there is no contact, coming too close can disrupt feeding, breeding and migratory behaviors.

Regular water users should make themselves familiar with all the rules for interacting with marine mammals by viewing the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010.

In the water

  • Prescribed vessels (high-powered craft such as jet-skis, hydrofoils and boats used for water skiing or paragliding): Never closer than 300m.
  • Other vessels (for example, cabin cruisers, yachts, ‘tinnies’, inflatables, kayaks, wind surfers and kite surfers): No closer than 100m.
  • Other vessels within 300m of a whale: No anchoring; maximum speed 4 knots; maximum time 60 minutes.
  • Swimmers (including surfers and boogie boarders): No closer than 30m.

On land

No closer than 30m (or 50m if the whale is distressed, stranded or entangled)

In the air

  • Planes and remotely piloted aircrafts (drones) must be at least 300m from any whale or other marine mammal (additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority restrictions apply).
  • Helicopters and gyrocopters must be at least 500m from any whale or other marine mammal.

Special rules exist for:

  • the Encounter Bay Restricted Area: All vessels  – no closer than 300m to a whale
  • whale calves: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m
  • distressed, stranded or entangled whales: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m