Migrating whales are here with the 2018 whale watching season kicking off in earnest.
Experts from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) are encouraging residents to head to their nearest coastal national park to seek out a vantage point to see the whales on their annual migration north.
From now and all throughout June and July, keen whale watchers are likely to see larger groups of humpback whales as they move along the NSW coastline towards warmer waters for breeding.
More than 30,000 humpback whales will make the migration this year, and they’re already on the move heading north.
It’s early in the season but good numbers have been spotted off the Mid North Coast.
They will then head back southwards, many with their newborn calves, during spring from September through to November, travelling at a much more leisurely pace.
Humpback whales are an incredible success story, having recovered as a species from the brink of extinction less than six decades ago, to the point where they can now be readily sighted in NSW waters between mid-June and December.
Some of the region’s top vantage points include the the Headland Walk at Saltwater National Park, Crowdy Head lighthouse; Port Macquarie coast walk in Tacking Point, the Cape Hawke lookout in Booti Booti National Park, Sugarloaf Point at Seal Rocks, Front Beach in Arakoon National Park, Smoky Cape Lighthouse in Hat Head National Park and Charles Hamey lookout in Kattang Nature Reserve.
Meanwhile, the annual ORRCA Whale Census will be held on June 24. To sign up and participate, go to www.orrca.org.au.
Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said that, for the safety of whales and the general public, there are rules in place that govern how close people can go to whales.
“Boats should go no closer than 300 metres and 400 metres if there is a calf,” Ms Upton said.
“There are also restrictions for how close drones and other aircraft can go to whales.
The whale migration season has triggered the removal of all five shark nets on the NSW North Coast and an end to the second shark net trial.
The second trial of shark nets has been underway for almost five months at Lighthouse Beach (Ballina), Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina), Seven Mile Beach (Lennox Head) and Evans Head Beach.
SMART drumlines will remain in the water over the winter month, which have proven to be very effective at catching target sharks.
To find out more about the best whale watching vantage spots along the NSW coast, to learn about whale behaviours and different species of whales, and to download the free Wild About Whales mobile app (to log and view the most up-to-date whale sightings near you), go to wildaboutwhales.com.au.
And don’t forget to share your whale photos with us on Instagram by tagging @manningrivertimes and using the hashtag #MNCwhales.
For stranded, entangled, or sick whales should be reported immediately to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Environment Line on 131 555 or ORRCA Whale and Dolphin Rescue on (02) 9415 3333 (24 hours hotline).