Know your approach zones

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Southern right whale mum and calf

Southern right whale mum and calf

Hey guys, This year has been absolutely amazing for whales and seals in NSW (in fact the whole east coast has had a cracker!), we've had visits from really uncommon Antarctic species such as crab-eater seals and leopard seals, we've seen more orca and southern right whales than at any time in the past twenty years.

Most of the community share our love of these majestic and interesting animals and for the most part take pictures whilst keeping their distance and disturbance of the animal to a minimum.

These seals and whales have after all, come a long way and do need to rest and chill some before moving back south.

I recently viewed some underwater footage of a swimmer approaching a southern right whale that concerned me greatly; the film on YouTube shot on the NSW south coast clearly shows the snorkeller closer than the legally permissible distance of 30 metres for a swimmer. As southern right whale behaviour can be completely unpredictable the swimmers' proximity to the whale is extremely dangerous. 

There are numerous examples of divers that have suffered the consequences of being too close to whales, here is just one.

When in the water with these animals we are in their element, so that means we have to make sure we don't harass them or attempt to approach closer than the legal distance, both for your safety and the welfare of the whale. Remember if they are too harassed they may not be so inclined to visit our shores again!

Geoff Ross is the Marine Mammal expert for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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  • NSW Government
  • National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW