26 September 2023

Boaters warned to give whales their space

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With the annual whale migration season in full swing along the south coast, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is reminding all boaties and those on the water to respectfully watch these creatures from afar.

NPWS Area Manager, Jo Issaverdis said the reminder came after an incident where a small boat purposely approached a whale off Burrewarra Point, north of Broulee.

“While we are looking into this incident, our key message is one of education and awareness,” Ms Issaverdis said.

“We urge boaties, surfers, swimmers and everyone on the water to please give the whales space, and stay at least 100 meters away in all directions,” she said.

“This rule is in place to keep both the whales safe and the community safe.”

Ms Issaverdis said adult humpbacks could weigh up to 35 tonnes and if frightened or threatened, could cause serious damage to vessels, passengers and swimmers.

“We understand why people want to get a closer look at these majestic creatures, but the reality is that interfering with the whale migration and getting too close is risky and unsafe for all,” she said.

“There are so many great vantage points from the coast where people can watch one of world’s great migrations, and with more than 35,000 humpbacks expected to pass the coast this season, you guaranteed to see some.”

Ms Issaverdis said that under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, all watercraft, including boats, surfboards, surf skis and kayaks must stay at least 100m from a whale, and at least 300m if a calf is present.

She said restrictions also apply to swimmers, snorkellers, divers and those in the water, who must stay at least 30m from a whale.

“There are also restrictions for aircraft, including drones,” the Area Manager said.

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