Port Stephens Whale watching season begins

A Humpback Whale  breaches in our beautiful Marine Park.  Photo courtesy Lisa Skelton of Imagine Cruises
A Humpback Whale breaches in our beautiful Marine Park. Photo courtesy Lisa Skelton of Imagine Cruises


MAY through to November will see plenty of opportunities for whale watching in Port Stephens.

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Did you know that we have the largest Marine Park in New South Wales with approximately 98,200 ha, named the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park.

Take a short walk to Tomaree Headland, or to the new whale watching path at Noamunga Headland, Boat Harbour and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and a great whale viewing spot.

You can also watch these amazing mammals as they make their journey along the coastline from a boat with one of the many cruise operators.

Moonshadow cruises has already recorded the first sighting of a young humpback whale two miles offshore between Boondelbah and Little Island.

Rules have been set for approach zones and safe distances to protect our marine mammals while allowing people to appreciate them in the wild.

If you’re in the water and you spot a whale, then you must stay at least 30m from the whale in any direction.

You must also not wait in front of the whale/s, or approach from behind.

If you’re on the water, on a powered or non-powered water vessel such as a boat, surfboard, surf ski or kayak, then you need to maintain a distance of at least 100m from the whale/s, and 300m if a calf is present.

For all water vessels, a distance of between 100m and 300m is established as the ‘caution zone’.

If using a ‘prohibited vessel’ (that is, a vessel that can make fast and erratic movements) then the distance increases to at least 300m from the whale/s.

If you’re in a plane or helicopter, or watching the seas from a drone and you spot a whale, then you must be at a height not lower than 300 metres.

Whale watching runs for six months of the year with the Northern Migration from mid-May to August and the Southern Migration from August to mid-November when the mothers and newborn calves make their way back down to the feeding grounds of the Antarctica.

By Jewell DRURY

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