Whales a shore thing
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.