Rules and regulations for whale and dolphin watchers
We’re pretty lucky here. We get to see some of the ocean’s biggest mammals frolicking in our waters. Australia has many sites around its coastline that are ideal for whale and dolphin watching. Humpback whales travel almost the entire Queensland coast during their migration season, which peaks between July and September, and the Sunshine Coast is a definite hot spot. With an increasing whale population and more boaties heading offshore, I thought it was a good time to refresh on regulations to ensure the safety of people and whales.
The basic rule when near whales and dolphins is to be quiet and do not try to feed or touch them. These tips will help make sightings of our marine life more enjoyable and safer for everyone:
- Be alert and watch for whales and dolphins at all times.
- When in a vessel, do not approach closer than 100m to any whale or 50m to any dolphin.
- The caution zone for vessels is the area within 300m of a whale and 150m of a dolphin. No more than three vessels are allowed within the caution zone at any one time and vessels should operate at no wake speeds within this zone.
- Approach whales and dolphins from parallel to and slightly to the rear – not from directly behind or head-on.
- When leaving whales or dolphins, move off at a slow (no wake) speed to the outer limit of the caution zone (300m) from the closest animal before gradually increasing speed.
- Keep a lookout and avoid disturbance to mother whales or dolphins and their calves. Mother and calf will be close together and the calves are sometimes difficult to see.
- If there is a sudden change in whale or dolphin behaviour, move away immediately at a slow steady pace.
- Whales and dolphins sometimes form social groupings and may approach your vessel – if this happens place the engine in neutral and let the animal(s) come to you; or slow down and continue on course; or steer online casino a straight course away from them.
- Do not get into the water if you see a whale or dolphin. If you”re already in the water do not disturb, chase or block the path of a whale or dolphin and if possible, return to your vessel or the shore.
Whether you are whale watching or just on the way to your favourite fishing spot, following the rules and regulations ensures everyone should have a safe and enjoyable whale season.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a boat. You will still get a chance to see whales. When they start to migrate south the mothers and calves hang close to shore avoiding predators. Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland, Noosa and Kawana Beach are regular haunts for humpback whales.
Enjoy these amazing creatures and stay safe on the water! Let us know where if you have spotted any whales recently.
These rules are supplied by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and can be viewed at www.environment.gov.au.