Whale of a spectacle on the way
Whale watchers can expect a bumper number of sightings during the 2016 NSW whale season which kicks off this week, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.
A big year of calving in 2015 means the number of humpbacks, southern right whales and minke whales along the NSW coastline is likely to increase – and so will the likelihood of spotting them.
“The population of humpback whales passing the NSW coast is estimated to be more than 20,000 and is increasing more than 10 per cent each year,” Mr Speakman said.
“The number of people visiting NSW coastal national parks during whale season is soaring – up 39 per cent between July and October in the past five years, which we believe in large part is due to the popularity of whale watching.”
Mr Speakman said that during last year’s National Parks and Wildlife Service Wild About Whales campaign, more than $2 million in accommodation bookings was made in NSW coastal national park properties.
“National parks make up almost 50 per cent of the NSW coastline. These bookings also help support the local economy through tourism to those areas along the coastline and make NSW Australia’s best whale watching state.”
Mr Speakman reminded whale watchers who ventured into the water to keep a safe, respectful distance.
“It’s a busy time offshore for shipping and marine mammals and anyone on the water should be vigilant to avoid collision,” he said.
“All vessels including kayaks, surf skis and surfboards must remain at least 100 metres from a whale and 300 metres if there is a calf present, which are both for the safety of whale watchers and the wellbeing of the whales themselves.”