27 September 2023

Migrating whales making splashes

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The first sightings of whales off the NSW coast have been recorded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as the whales’ annual migration from Antarctica to warmer northern waters begins.

Welcoming the gentle giants, Minister for Environment, James Griffin said the first of about 40,000 humpback whales had started their long swim towards tropical waters.

“The whale migration is one of the longest journeys of any animal species and we are so lucky to be able to witness it right on our doorstep,” Mr Griffin said.

“We have more than 880 national parks and reserves in New South Wales, many of which are on the coast and provide excellent viewing opportunities for these oceanic giants,” he said.

“After declining to an estimated few hundred whales in the early 1960s, the recovery of the humpback whale population is a great conservation success story and one we can all be proud of as we enjoy watching these majestic creatures make their way up the coast.”

Mr Griffin said that during their annual round trip from Antarctic waters, the whales covered about 10,000 kilometres at a migratory speed of around six kilometres per hour.

The Minister said most of the whales that travelled past the NSW coast were humpbacks however, other species included southern right whales, dwarf minke whales, tropical whales and blue whales.

Marine Fauna Expert at NPWS, Shona Lorigan said humpback whales were easily recognisable and their behaviours, like breaching and rolling, always put on a show for whale watchers.

“Later in the year, we’ll be able to see theses whales heading south again, many with their newborn calves,” Ms Lorigan said.

She reminded enthusiastic whale watchers that regulations required all vessels to remain at least 100 metres away from whales, aircraft to fly no closer than 300 metres, and drones must not be operated closer than 100 metres.

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