Rise of the hump­back swim

Pilbara News - - News - Shan­non Beat­tie

Ex­mouth is known as the place to swim with whale sharks, but af­ter the suc­cess of the third year of a trial to swim with hump­back whales, that is start­ing to change.

The hump­back swim trial started in 2016 to mixed re­views and the 2017 sea­son was fraught with dif­fi­cul­ties be­cause of a change in the rules by the State Gov­ern­ment.

Live Nin­ga­loo owner-oper­a­tor Mur­ray Pat­ti­son said ev­ery­where in the world a hump­back whale calf was de­fined as half the size of its mother but in 2017 that was changed to two-thirds, but only for the Nin­ga­loo coast.

“That made it re­ally tough be­cause in Oc­to­ber, we re­ally only have mums and calves go­ing down the hump­back high­way, and the calves are usu­ally big­ger than half but not quite two-thirds the size,” he said. “Now, they’ve rec­ti­fied that and it gives us an ex­tra month of busi­ness. It al­lows us to be con­sis­tent and at this time of year, we should get a swim ev­ery day.”

While the whale sharks are still a more lu­cra­tive busi­ness as tour oper­a­tors across the Nin­ga­loo coast have a 96 per cent suc­cess rate, in­ter­ac­tions with hump­backs can be bet­ter.

“I per­son­ally pre­fer the hump­back swims; they choose to in­ter­act with you so it’s more nat­u­ral, whereas with the whale sharks, you tend to swim with it and you’re mak­ing the in­ter­ac­tion hap­pen,” Mr Pat­ti­son said.

“You get great in­ter­ac­tions with the half-size calves. They’re very cu­ri­ous, they come and check you out and that’s what peo­ple will re­mem­ber, a hump­back whale com­ing to in­ter­act with them.” Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment Stephen Daw­son has ap­proved the con­tin­u­a­tion of the in-water in­ter­ac­tion tri­als for the 2019 and 2020 sea­sons.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to as­sess and de­velop this new and in­no­va­tive tourism ex­pe­ri­ence, but visi­tor re­search from the first two years of the trial in­di­cates that visi­tor sat­is­fac­tion is very high and there are no in­di­ca­tions of neg­a­tive im­pacts on the whales,” he said.

Pic­ture: Chris Jansen/Live Nin­ga­loo

Min­is­ter for En­vi­ron­ment Stephen Daw­son has ap­proved the con­tin­u­a­tion of the in-water in­ter­ac­tion tri­als for the 2019 and 2020 sea­sons.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.