The Southern Right Whale season has begun this week, with a string of sightings reported along the coastline between Cape Nelson and Geelong.
Migrating Southern Right Whales visit the south-west coast from May to October, and are often seen frolicking in waters off Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool, Apollo Bay and along the Great Ocean Road.
DELWP Senior Biodiversity Officer Mandy Watson said: “Since Sunday (7 May) there have been confirmed sightings of Southern Right Whales at Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson, and unconfirmed sightings at Port Fairy, Logan’s Beach and in Corio Bay.”
“As these giant mammals are critically endangered (on the Victorian Threatened Species Advisory List) in Victorian waters , it’s always encouraging when we have a good start to the season such as this.”
“We’re hoping to see an increase in whale activity off Portland, as last year a mother and calf stayed in waters off Portland for the entire season.”
“This could be a sign of population recovery in the area, as the whales historically frequented this area in large numbers before being decimated during commercial whaling in the early 1900s.”
“This is always an exciting time of the year, and whale watchers will no doubt have eyes fixed on Logan’s Beach Nursery at Warrnambool, hoping to see the first mother and calf for the season.”
“Local viewing platforms and cliffs are great spots to safely observe these majestic animals, as the whales can come close to shore and are often seen rolling and waving their fins in the air.”
“Disappointingly, we’ve already had reports of boats moving too close to whales, and we are investigating those reports.”
The Logan’s Beach Exclusion Zone will come into force on 1 June, preventing all powered vessels from entering the area.
“The Logan’s Beach exclusion zone helps protect the nursery area of the Southern Right Whale and limit disturbance to the mothers and their calves,” Ms Watson said.
"We know that whales react to the presence of boats, and mothers will move between their calves and boats or move calves away from boats, so this zone is for everyone's protection."
Outside the Logan’s Beach Exclusion Zone, minimum approach distances apply for all marine mammals. Boats are required to stay at least 200m from a whale and jetskis must stay 300m away.
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