Whales a shore thing

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - NI­CHOLAS MCELROY

THE de­par­ture of the sand pump­ing dredge from the Gold Coast is good is news for whale watch­ers.

Re­searchers say since the 111m dredge fin­ished work­ing off beaches two weeks ago the whales are mi­grat­ing closer to shore.

And the sea­son is ex­pected to con­tinue for three more weeks be­fore the wa­ter warms up and the mam­mals travel down into Antarc­tic waters.

Hump­backs and Highrises founder Dr Olaf Mey­necke said data sug­gested fewer whales had been spot­ted this sea­son due to the noise pro­duced by the dredge.

He said many of the es­ti­mated 30,000 hump­backs gave the Coast a wide berth.

“We have had lower num­bers close to shore in the south­ern Gold Coast bay than in pre­vi­ous years,” Dr Mey­necke said.

“Based on hy­drophone record­ings we were able to de­tect the sound of the dredger up to 15km off­shore.

“Our last sur­veys are still be­ing run but so far we have seen a dras­tic in­crease of whales close to shore since the dredger left.”

Sea World Whale Watch gen­eral man­ager David Robert­son said “su­per­pods” had been mi­grat­ing close to beaches and baby whales were reg­u­larly spot­ted.

“I think we’ll have three more weeks of good whales,” Mr Robert­son said.

“They’ve def­i­nitely moved closer to shore now the dredge has moved off.

“We have a hy­drophone on board and when the dredge was here it sounded like a big crunch­ing ma­chine un­der­wa­ter.”

Mr Robert­son said moth­ers with calves ap­peared to slow down once they reached waters off the Gold Coast.

“The whales slow down when they hit the Gold Coast and rest be­fore they get into cooler waters,” he said.

Sights like this are ex­pected to con­tinue off the Gold Coast for the next three weeks.

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