Whales a ‘com­mon prob­lem’ for boat­ies

Sunshine Coast Daily - - NEWS -

WHALES can be a “com­mon prob­lem” for skip­pers in win­ter dur­ing mi­gra­tion sea­son.

SunReef and Whale One owner Dan Hart said there was lots of whale ac­tiv­ity around the Coast this sea­son, with about 33,000 whales ex­pected – an in­crease of about 10 per cent.

The whale sea­son goes from June to the end of Oc­to­ber, and Mr Hart said this year whales had been spot­ted on the Coast ear­lier than pre­vi­ous years.

“The pop­u­la­tion is in­creas­ing so it’s tak­ing them longer to travel up the coast,” he said.

He said the in­crease in pop­u­la­tion meant more whales trav­el­ling to­gether.

“Pod sizes vary ... moth­ers will of­ten have young with them, and some­times a male es­cort.

“You’ll of­ten see pods as large as seven or eight whales.”

Mr Hart said whales were a con­cern for skip­pers, as they were known to sink yachts.

“Whales have al­ways been a big con­cern, I’ve hit two or three whales in my life­time,” he said.

“They weigh as much as your boat, es­pe­cially if they’re com­ing at you from the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

“Rac­ing yachts are par­tic­u­larly prone if they do hit a whale – struc­turally they’re not de­signed to do it.

“They have a very deep keel … not very strong if they hit some­thing un­der the wa­ter.”

David Cook, from the Depart­ment of Wildlife and Sci­ence, said skip­pers should be ex­tremely cau­tious, but it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to avoid a whale at night.

Photo: Mike Middleton

WHAL­ING AROUND: The mi­gra­tion sea­son is in full swing on the Coast, with sighted pod sizes as large as seven or eight whales. Boat­ies are be­ing urged to be on the look­out for the mam­mals.

Photo: John McCutcheon

Rod Small­man’s yacht has a 1.75m crack af­ter be­ing hit by a whale.

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