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Friday, June 22, 2012


It's whale time all along the Queensland coast.

(Here's a little background information.)

HUMPBACK whales are already being spotted making their winter migration along our coastline with the biggest pods since pre-whaling days expected to pass Byron Bay and the Gold Coast this year.
Southern Cross University marine ecology research centre director Professor Peter Harrison said up to 17,000 humpbacks would make the northern migration this year as the population continued to recover by about 10 per cent a year after nearly being wiped out during the whaling years.
"This year will be very special; there will be more humpback whales along our coastline for the first time since mid last century," he said.
"Some whales have already been spotted along our coastline migrating up to the Great Barrier Reef from mid-April and the peak migration will start in the last two weeks of June.
"The humpback whale population was estimated between 26,000 and 30,000 but then crashed down to possibly a few hundred during the massive whaling in the middle of last century and became economically extinct.
"In the early 1950s, illegal whaling by the Soviet Union in the southern Australian waters killed 25,000 humpbacks in just two summers and virtually wiped them out."
Australia's last whaling station in Albany, Western Australia, closed in 1978.
Prof Harrison said about 1500 extra humpback whales were this year starting their migration from Antarctic waters up the eastern coast of Australia to the Great Barrier Reef where they will spend the winter breeding and calving.
The peak group is due to appear in waters off Byron Bay and the Gold Coast from mid-June.
Travelling between 100-140km a day, it will take the whales about two months to make the 6000-8000km migration north.

A whale breaching off the Gold Coast this week. Picture: Sea World Whale Watch Source: The Courier-Mail

Prof Harrison said the whales did not tend to travel in packs until they reached Byron Bay, with the most easterly point of Australia creating a ``funnelling effect'', grouping the whales together in huge numbers and providing amazing whale-watching opportunities.

Famous albino whale Migaloo is expected to appear late June.

Do you remember I wrote about him here ?

By the time some of the last stragglers make their way to northern Queensland in late July, some of early migrators are already heading back south for the summer."
The above article was written byTanya Westthorp

Around September the whales and their calves rest up for a while in Hervey Bay on their way back to the Antarctic so it is a great place to observe them frolicing in the waters of the bay. As you can imagine they are a great tourist attraction but we are very protective of our whales.
There are many Whale Watching Tours that have to adhere to very strict regulations about how close they are allowed to get to the whales ( 300metres), how many boats are allowed to gather together when whales are spotted and even how high planes must fly above them (2000ft) .

Every year Tony and I say we'd love to take a whale watching tour. Perhaps this year we'll do it!



  1. Imagine! Fascinating post Helen.

  2. Isn't watching whales "frolicking" somewhat perverted? Mind you, perhaps they should get a hotel room instead of "frolicking" in public!
    You and Sir Tony should do it - err I mean go whale watching not frolicking!

  3. Blame the heat and lack of water for YP's remark Helsie.

    Lovely post again. I didn't know Hump-backs came up that coast, but it makes sense. We have a much smaller number that make their way to warmer waters past the Kaikoura coast (East) of New Zealand. I hope we have as strict rules about proximity.