The annual northern migration of humpback whales along the Western Australian coast is underway, with sightings of the majestic creatures being reported from Albany to Exmouth.
Thousands of these mammals make the 13,000 kilometre round trip from Antarctica to warmer waters in WA’s north between May and late November.
Watch WA’s msjestic whales begin their migration:
During this time, the number of whale entanglements and stranding incidents may increase, and the Department of Parks and Wildlife has specialised teams throughout the State that can be deployed to safely attempt disentanglements.
The humpback migration is one of the longest whale watching seasons in the world, attracting thousands of visitors to the coast and providing a boost to whale tour operators as well as the regional economy.
Southern right whales are also seen between Esperance and Perth during winter and spring, as they come into sheltered bays and close to shorelines to give birth to their young.
“The annual whale migration is one of the world’s greatest conservation recovery stories, with humpbacks going from the brink of extinction in the 1960s due to hunting by commercial whalers, to an estimated 35,000 that travel the Western Australian coastline today,” Environment minister Stephen Dawson said.
“These marine giants can sometimes be seen from the shoreline as they move from the south coast to calving grounds in the Kimberley and back again, providing whale watchers with memorable glimpses along the way.
“Seeing whales interacting in their natural environment is, for many, a once in a lifetime opportunity and I encourage Western Australians to view this tremendous marine spectacle that’s taking place at our doorstep.”
Tourism minister Paul Papalia added whale watching is a key part of the state government’s developing tourism plan to “diversify the economy, create jobs and develop business opportunities, especially in the regions”.
“In 2016, visitors spent $10 billion in the state, including $4.7 billion in regional areas,” Mr Papalia said.
“Extraordinary natural experiences such as whale watching are great for tourism because they help draw visitors to regional areas and support local jobs through the money visitors spend during their stay.”