Respecting Whales this Watching Season
Whale migration season is well and truly here, with the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) reminding people that it is important we respect these majestic creatures and keep a safe distance.
Image Source: Southern Right Whales with their calves photographed during recent research trip at the Head of the Bight. Marine Parks Permit M000019-1 | Wildlife Ethics Committee Permit 25/2014 | DEW research permit Y26316-1 | EPBC Act Cetacean Permit 2014-0003.
National Parks and Wildlife Compliance Officer Elise Launer said whales frequent a number of areas along the Eyre Peninsula coast during the winter months.
“It’s amazing to see these animals in their natural habitat, however it’s important that we don’t disturb them, both for their safely and yours,” she said.
“Whales and dolphins that are disturbed may stop feeding or nursing their young.
"Whales may also alter their migration paths and become displaced from important habitats used for resting, breeding, calving or feeding.
“That’s why there are regulations stipulating safe approach distances for boats, jet skis and drones.
“Jet skis must stay 300 m from a whale at all times, and other vessels are required to stay at least 100 m from an adult, and 300 m from a calf," she said.
“Drones and other aircraft can disturb marine life due to their speed, noise, shadow or downdraft.
“Drones must stay at least 300 m from a marine mammal at all times, both horizontally and vertically.
“Anyone who wishes to operate a drone or vessel close to a whale, dolphin or seal must apply for a permit from DEW.
“It’s also important to stay away from sick, injured or entangled animals," she explained.
Marine mammals that have become entangled or incapacitated in rope or netting, can act erratically and be aggressive and unpredictable.
“It’s important that only appropriately trained professionals respond to distressed or entangled animals.”
Other rules regarding whales and marine mammals can be found in the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammal) Regulations 2010.
If you see a stranded or entangled marine mammal, or see someone harassing a marine mammal call:
Eastern and Southern Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger: 8688 3223
Western Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger: 8626 1108 24 hour
FISHWATCH hotline: 1800 065 522
Port Lincoln Natural Resources Centre: 08 8688 3111