Creating a safe passage for the Southern Right Whales

Boaties are reminded that the annual closure of conservation zones in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park has begun, marking the start of the whale season.

The Park’s Restricted Access Zone and Marine Mammal Protection Zone are both off-limits to boats from 1 May to 31 October.

This temporary closure will assist Southern Right Whales to successfully navigate their way to the head of the Great Australian Bight for the breeding season.

Marine Parks Western Region Coordinator Dirk Holman said the closure helps keep our marine life undisturbed during this time.

“Southern right whales migrate to the Head of the Bight each season to mate, give birth and nurse their young calves in calm, protected waters,” Dirk said.

“While they are here their mothers are unable to feed, so it is critical they are not disturbed by vessels, allowing them to conserve their energy for their return journey to sub-Antarctic waters.”

The beginning of the whale breeding season brings out keen observers and each year people are exploring different ways to obtain that ‘perfect picture’.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula Compliance officer Lana Roediger said there are strict regulations when observing whales, both on and off shore.

“With the increasing use of drones to capture footage it is important to remember that drones must maintain a minimum distance of 300m and that hovering a drone above a whale is not permitted,” Lana said.

“If you are in a small vessel on the water you must stay at least 100m away from a whale, while jet skis must remain at least 300m from whales, dolphins and seals at all times.

“Whales, like all marine life, can exhibit unpredictable behaviour and these regulations ensure the animals and people remain safe.

“People found to be in breach of these regulations face expiation fees of $315.”

The temporary closure aggregation site at the Head of the Bight is encompassed by the State Far West Coast Marine Park, and the Commonwealth Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve, which are managed and funded in a joint agreement between the State and Commonwealth Governments.

Anyone wishing to report a distressed whale or an incident involving a marine mammal within waters or on the coast of the Eyre Peninsula are encouraged to call either the Western Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger on 8626 1108 or the Eastern and Southern Eyre Peninsula Duty Ranger on 8688 3223.

For more information on whale watching regulations please visit: Environment.sa.gov.au whale watching regulations

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