Observe rules during whale season
The public are being urged not to jump into the water with humpback whales without an approved operator as they risk jeopardising the whale swim trial period as well as their own and the animals’ safety.
The humpback whale swim trial has almost finished its first month, with operators so far reporting everything from a 30 per cent to a 100 per cent success rate.
Department of Parks and Wildlife whale shark conservation officer Dani Rob said reports of people taking swims illegally had increased this season.
“The rules haven’t changed in respect to what you can do in your private boat. These are very large, powerful animals and the potential for injury is very high,” she said.
“This is about respect for the animals in their natural environment.
“They are undertaking a massive migration from Antarctic waters, are already highly stressed and having to dodge vessels . . . so we don’t want to put any more pressure on them by harassing the hell out of them.”
Ms Rob said a couple of injuries through people being “silly” could have a negative impact on the tourism industry, which was attracting worldwide press over the humpback swim.
While the humpback swim season is ramping up, the whale shark season is just about at a close, with sightings becoming more sporadic by the day.
It has been another record season for the Ningaloo Coast’s operators, with a 98 per cent success rate for in-water interactions.
Ms Rob said more than 24,000 swims had been conducted this season, smashing the previous record by about 4000.
Ms Rob put the continued success down to Australia’s legislative practices and strong protection measures in place off the WA coast.
Humpback whales off the Ningaloo coast.