Whale boom hits new record

4 Jul 2011 1

A humpback whale plays off the NSW coast, blissfully unaware of the many eyes delighting in watching the migration of it's species.

A humpback whale plays off the NSW coast, blissfully unaware of the many eyes delighting in watching the migration of it's species.

50-year high in migrating whale numbers off the NSW coast.

There are signs off the NSW coast of a whale population boom, with count figures from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) demonstrating record numbers of whales participating in the annual northern migration.

The NPWS counted more than 1000 whales passing Cape Solander in Sydney's south during the month of June, with expectations that previous record numbers for the annual migration will be broken next week.

"It appears our earlier predictions of a 10% increase in the number of whales migrating north along Australia's east coast were pretty accurate," said NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service marine fauna programme coordinator, Geoff Ross.

"We've not seen this many whales off the NSW coast since Australia banned commercial whaling in the 1960s.  Fifty years later, and the whale count is the highest it's ever been at this point in the annual migration since we started working with volunteers to count whales passing Cape Solander in 1997.

"These figures are proof the conservation effort is working.  With more whales reaching maturity and reproducing over the course of decades, populations of humpback whales, southern right whales and other species are increasing exponentially each year," Geoff said.

The number of migrating whales passing Cape Solander traditionally peaks in early July.  This year however, the NPWS is predicting larger numbers over a longer period of time.

"What does this mean for anyone hoping to catch sight of these amazing creatures?  You're more likely to see a whale off the NSW coastline than any year in recent memory.

"This is helped by the fact that people are really embracing our call to tweet their whale sightings.  Anyone following @wildaboutwhales and the #whaleon hashtag has access to real-time sighting alerts, which we're also mapping on our interactive maps at www.wildaboutwhales.com.au.

"If you've not yet had a chance to head to the coast and look for whales, this week will be your best time to go.  Visit www.wildaboutwhales.com.au for the best spots.

"With this number of whales about, we're also asking mariners taking to the water this week to enter and leave port cautiously and slowly, and post extra lookouts to keep a wary eye out for northbound leviathans," Geoff said.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has information on the many types of whales passing our coastline and the best places to spot them from, at www.wildaboutwhales.com.au.  Follow @wildaboutwhales for the latest whale sightings, and read about people's whale-watching experiences – or post your own – at www.facebook.com/wildaboutwhales.

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