27 September 2023

Coastal visitors have whale of a time

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The Department of Environment and Heritage Protections says about 35,000 humpback whales are expected to travel along Queensland’s coast during this autumn and winter.

However, the Department warned those on the water “to marvel from a distance”.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch said whales were a great tourist attraction, but keeping them safe and healthy was the key to a successful tourism experience.

“Boaties and recreational water users who get too close to the whales risk penalties or injury,” Ms Enoch said.

“Occasionally whales can become entangled in nets or stranded, and we encourage anyone who sees that to report it.”

She said the Marine Animal Release Team was specially trained to deal with whale entanglements and the public were advised to call them if whales became stranded.

“Boats must remain 100 metres away from whales, while personal watercrafts like jet skis have to maintain a 300-metre distance. For special interest whales, like the white whale, Migaloo, jet ski riders must keep 500 metres away,” the Minister said.

“These rules are in place to protect the public as well as these magnificent mammals.”

She said that if there are three boats within 100 metres, other skippers must remain at least 300 metres away so the pod of whales was not crowded.

Penalties for getting too close to humpback whales include a minimum $652 on-the-spot fine or a maximum fine of $21,540.

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