Share the water on the humpback highway these school holidays
With tens of thousands of whales set to make their way south on the humpback highway these school holidays, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) is reminding boaties, fishers and jet ski-users to share the water, or risk a hefty fine.
Every year, between late autumn and late spring, about 40,000 humpback whales travel up and down the Queensland east coast as part of their annual migration.
During this time, many female whales will give birth to their calves, meaning people can expect to see an increase in young whales during their journey south, which coincides with the September – October school holidays.
It is also common to see other marine life including seals, dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles and other species of whales travelling throughout Queensland’s coastal waters at this time of year.
DES Wildlife Officer Carli Lovell said when vessels and marine animals get too close it can pose a serious safety risk to both the community and marine life.
“Since 1 January 2022, DES has received 62 reports of marine animals with boat strike injuries, and it is safe to say there are many more injured animals in our waters that go undetected,” Ms Lovell said.
“The school holidays are the perfect time to get out on the water, experience our beautiful marine areas and see our unique aquatic wildlife, but it’s important to do so from a safe distance.”
In order to keep the community and marine animals safe, distancing rules are in place to prevent boats from getting too close to whales, dolphins and other marine animals.
Boaties and fishers must not get closer than 100 metres of a whale and 50 metres of a dolphin.
Jet skis cannot approach within 300 metres of both whales and dolphins.
Boat operators should also be mindful of the ‘3 boat rule’ in which a boat cannot get any closer than 300 metres to whales and 150 metres to dolphins if three boats are already present.
A $718 fine and other penalties may apply if you breach these approach distances.
General rules are also in place to protect all marine mammals:
Never restrict the path of a marine mammal or cause it to change direction.
Never drive a boat into a pod or herd of marine mammals causing it to divide into smaller groups.
Do not deposit rubbish near a marine mammal or anywhere in the ocean.
Do not make a sudden noise, or attempt to touch or feed a marine mammal.
Read more about how to share the water here: Rules for watching marine mammals | Environment | Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (des.qld.gov.au)
Report sick and injured marine wildlife to DES on 1300 130 372.