Ob­serve rules dur­ing whale sea­son

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Humpback whales off the Nin­ga­loo coast.

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